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First Edition 1919 
Second EdiHon 1920 


Since, in the early stages of school work, it is more 
important to present, as vividly as possible, some of 
the fundamental historic ideas than to give any out- 
line of events, it is hoped that this collection of 
stories, told from the chronicles, may provoke 
readers to discussion and further inquiry. 

Questions have been included in the appendix, 
some suggesting handwork, both as a means of pre- 
sentation in lessons and for illustrative purposes. 

Considerable use has been made of literature as 
historic evidence. Stories like those of the Knights 
of the Round Table often leave us with a clearer 
impression of the spirit of the times than any 
historic record. Many books of the kind are now 
easily accessible and could be read side by side 
with the text. Collections of pictures, such as the 
Bayeux Tapestry, published by the Victoria and 
Albert Museum, and Foucquet's Chroniques de 
France, offer valuable opportunities for some re- 
search on the child's part. 


HoMERTON College 
December y 191 8 



Before the Coming of the Romans 




The Romans 



The Saxons 



The Saxon Village . . . , 



The Coming of Christianity 



Alfred and the Danes 



The Battle of Hastings 



Norman Kings .... 

. 31 


Norman Barons .... 

. 34 


Norman Prelates 

• 39 


Norman Builders 

. 44 


Knighthood .... 

. 47 


The Knights of the Round Table 

• 52 


The Conquest of Ireland 

• 57 


The Coming of the Friars . 

. 61 


The Third. Crusade 



The Loss of Normandy. The Signing oi 
the Great Charter . 

. 69 


The First Parliament . 

• 71 


The Conquest of Wales 

• 74 




XX. The War with Scotland 

XXL The War with France , 

XXII. The War with France (continued) . 

XXIII. The Black Death and the Peasants 


XXIV. The War with France (continued) . 
XXV. New Worlds 

Suggestions for Study .... 

Time Chart 








The arming of a Knight frontispiece 

From John Duke of Bedford's Book of Hours (15th 
century). In the British Museum 


The Abbey of Citeaux 18 

From Viollet-le-duc, Dictionnaire raisonne de I'archi- 
tecture frangaise 


From the Miracles de Notre Dame, collected by Mielot, 
Canon of S. Peter's at Lille, and finished on 10 April, 
1456. In the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris 

By arrangement with MM. Catala Fr^res, Paris 

Harold defeats and kills Tostig and the King 

OF Norway at Stamford Bridge 30 

From the Life of Edward the Confessor (about 1260). 
In the University Library, Cambridge 


By Jean Foucquet, from the Grandes chroniques de 
France (middle of the 15th century). In the Bibliotheque 
Nationale, Paris 

By arrangement with MM. Catala Frferes, Paris 


Architect and builders 44 

From a Bible written at Lille, about 1270. In the 
library of Mr S. C. Cockerell 

Building a church in the fifteenth century 44 

By Jean Foucquet, from the Grandes chroniques de 
France (middle of the 15th century). In the Bibliotheque 
Nationale, Paris 

By arrangement with MM. Catala Fr^res, Paris 



The building of the temple of Jerusalem 45 

From the Aniiquites Judaiques, by Jean Foucquet 
(middle of the 15th century) 

By kind permission of MM. Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Paris 


From Viollet-le-duc, Dictionnaire raisonne de I'archi- 
tecture franfaise 

Gateway and drawbridge 47 

From Viollet-le-duc, Dictionnaire raisonne de I'archi- 
tecture frangaise 

A court of justice, 1458. Duke of Alencon con- 
demned FOR treason by Charles VII, King 
OF France 72 

By Jean Foucquet. From Le Boccace de Munich. In 
the Royal Library at Munich. 

The King is seated on his throne, and below him the 
princes, and on his right the Chancellor of France with 
bands of gold on his shoulder. Sentence is being read 
by one of the officers of the law. On the King's left 
the lords of the Church are seated and below are 
the chief officers of the realm. Outside the barrier is 
the royal guard 

The Parliament of Edward I 73 

The Archbishops of Canteibury and York are seated 
just below Alexander King of Scotland, and Llewelyn 
Prince of Wales. The two behind are supposed to be 
the Pope's ambassadors. There are 19 mitred Abbots, 
8 Bishops and 20 Peers present. The Chancellor and 
Judges are seated on the woolsacks. 
From Pinkerton, Iconographia Scotica. Probably 
drawn in the i6th century 

Preparing the feast 88 

From the LuUrell Psalter (14th century). In the British 

j The feast 89 

From the Luttrell Psalter {14th century). In the British 



A Christian of Constantinople borrowing 


From the Miracles de Notre Dame, collected by Jean 
Mi61ot, and finished on 10 April, 1456. In the Biblio- 
th^que Nationale, Paris 
By arrangement with MM. Catala Frdres, Paris 


From the Miracles de Notre Dame, collected by Jean 
Mi61ot, and finished on 10 April, 1456. In the Biblio- 
thfeque Nationale, Paris 
By arrangement with MM. Catala Frferes, Paris 


A mark of Josse Badius Ascensius. From De Sacra- 
mentis of Thomas Waldensis, 1521. In the University 
Library, Cambridge 

The Twelve Months at end 

From Les iris riches heures de Jean de France, Due le 
Berry, chiefly the work of Pol de Limbourg, painted 
between 1412 and 1416 and now in the Mus6e Cond6, 

By kind permission of MM. Plon-Nourrit et Cie, Paris 



The world is very old, and it has taken a long time 
to discover much of the ancient story of Britain. 
Scholars have found out many things because they 
are able now to read the signs on the rocks and 
under the soil. From the tools left behind, from 
the remains of dwellings and from treasures found 
in graves, we have learned about the ways of men 
in times before history was written down. 

Once, it seems, Britain was a hot land. Great 
forests grew up everywhere. Strange wild crea- 
tures roamed about, and there were monsters in the 

Once, too, it was a very cold land, and the snow 
lay in the valleys and ice-glaciers came sliding 
down the mountains, making great river beds as 
they passed. 

As it grew warmer, the ice melted and dis- 
appeared. The ice fields left pools of water behind 
them, the lakes that you find in the country still. 
The rivers, too, brimming over, flowed swiftly to 
the sea. Mighty rivers they must have been, 
broader and deeper than they are now. 

When men came, they made their homes in the 
caves and in underground dwellings, and later they 
built mud huts. They hunted for their food, 
learned to weave clothes from the grasses, to make 
weapons from stone and to strike fire from the 

B.B.I. I 


rocks. This is a very long story and we know little 
about it. 

Of the Britons who dwelt here, we know some- 
thing from those who had heard of them and wrote 
about them. Round about their villages, they made 
wattle-fences to keep away their enemies and the 
wild beasts that came out of the forests in winter 

They were shepherds and had many herds of 
sheep and cattle, and they grew a little corn. Some- 
times, travellers from far-off lands came to visit 
them, to exchange their eastern coins for grain and 

The Britons loved beautiful things. They made 
cunning designs on their shields and helmets and 
with dainty tracings they ornamented their pots 
and jugs. They wove linen in fine patterns and 
knew how to make dyes. They were fond of music 
and told stories to one another of dragons and 
heroes and the great dreams of men. 

When their chief died, they raised a mound over 
his grave; sometimes, too, great pillars of stone. 
They carried presents of corn and meat and fruit to 
put upon the grave, because they thought he might 
need them on his long journey. In some parts of 
the country, there are pillars of stone set up in 
circles. It is thought that perhaps the Britons used 
these as temples, praying and making their offer- 
ings under the sky, in sunshine and starshine. 

The Romans said that the Britons loved riding 
wild horses, which they had tamed, and they were 
so skilful that however fast they galloped, the rider 


could make the horse stand quite still at any mo- 
ment. They sometimes rode in chariots and drove 
furiously. When they went into battle they armed 
their chariots with sharp knives and cut the enemy 
down on both sides. But they did not use their 
chariots often, for they would rather tend flocks in 
the fields than go to war. 



The best soldiers in the world were the Romans, 
who came from the great city of Rome, far away in 
Italy. Everybody had heard of their mighty deeds, 
for they had conquered nearly every land except 
Britain, and to them Britain seemed to be in the 
farthest corner of the world, just on the edge, a land, 
no doubt , of dragons and strange wild people . Now 
the Romans had heard that there was meat and corn 
in plenty in the land, that there were tin mines, and 
tin was very useful for mixing with copper to make 
armour. So they invaded Britain. 

The great Roman army moved very slowly 
through the land, for there were few roads. Some- 
times the soldiers had to cut down trees to make 
their way through the forests, sometimes they had 
to cross the dismal fenlands, sometimes to make a 
bridge over a flooded river, or to wade knee-deep 
through the swamps. As they marched, they had 
to fight with the Britons. 


The Scots had heard of their coming and were 
safely hiding in their fastnesses when the Romans 
reached the Borderland. Then the Romans built 
a great wall from sea to sea between the two 
countries, Scotland and Britain, a wall that must 
have taken several years to build even if they had 
thousands of men to build it. It was made of the 
finest stone, which they seem to have carried many 
miles across the country. It was nine feet wide and 
eighteen feet high and the turrets were placed so 
near together that the sentinels could call to one 
another and so send a message quickly. Below the 
wall, on the enemy's side, they dug a deep ditch, 
often having to make it through the hard limestone 
rock. Every mile, they built a spacious fort for the 
soldiers to rest in, well defended and quite close to 
the wall. Every four miles, there was a station, some- 
times a small town, surrounded by a wide wall, 
too, where perhaps the chief officers lived. From 
station to station, from east to west, ran the great 
road, for the traffic of the army. Up to the gates of 
the stations, too, came the new Roman roads from 
the south, for the army sometimes had to call 
for help from other places and needed food and 
many things from the south. It must have been 
a stern duty to keep watch in the bleak winter 
months, and the soldiers seem to have had few 
comforts. The remains of this great wall still lie 
from Wallsend to the west coast. 

At the cross-roads, by the great rivers, the Ro- 
mans built their towns and camps all over Britain, 
just like those they had known in Italy. Every 


town was surrounded by a great wall, whence the 
soldiers could keep a look-out for the enemy, and 
nobody could enter the place except through the 
gates between sunrise and sunset. Outside the 
town, they sometimes built an amphitheatre, where 
games and wild beast fights were held on holidays. 

The houses of the chief officers were built like 
those in sunny Italy. The most interesting room in 
the house was the bath-room, with a large tank, like 
a swimming bath, in the floor and a furnace to keep 
a good supply of hot water. The floor was paved 
with beautiful coloured tiles and scenes were painted 
on the walls. This room wasvery important, because 
the Roman often received his guests there and 
sometimes invited them to share in the ceremony of 
the bath. The garden was often lovely, there were 
orchards and smooth lawns and closely clipped 
hedges of box and yew, sometimes cut into fantas- 
tic shapes like birds and beasts. There were 
brightly coloured flowers, which had been brought 
from Italy — geraniums, roses and orchids. Then, 
there was the summer house, whose walls were 
made of tall trees growing close together, and in- 
side were couches and rugs and sometimes even a 
little lake in the centre, where jellies and fruits were 
to be seen floating in beautiful dishes, to keep them 
cool and fresh, as though the summer in Britain 
were very hot. 

There was much work to be done. The Roman 
officer had to visit the camps, driving in his chariot 
or carried in his litter by his slaves. He had to see 
that the road-making went on well, for the Romans 


made fine roads through Britain from north to 
south, to the east and to the west. He had to look 
after the building of the factories, where the wool 
was made into cloth and dyed in the famous purple 
dye, and if he lived in the south west, the tin 
mines in Cornwall had to be supervised. Some- 
times, he had even to take the long and difficult 
journey to Rome. The Britons looked on at this 
new life with great fear and wonder, and soon they 
learned to make better houses, to raise better crops 
and to live in the towns. 

When, three hundred years later, all the Romans 
were called to their own land to protect it against a 
strong enemy, the Britons were worse off than ever 
they had been before. Not only did the Scots come 
over the wall to burn and steal, but a new and a 
stronger enemy came over the seas from Denmark 
and Germany to seize the treasure that the Romans 
had left unguarded. 



These sea robbers were the Angles and the Saxons, 
and Britain became Angleland or England. They 
were fine men, tall and strong, with long fair hair 
and blue eyes. The Britons gazed in wonder as boat 
after boat glided into the bays. Graceful, brightly 


coloured boats they were, with forty oars on each 
side and a magnificent sail, sometimes made of silk, 
embroidered with a dragon or a serpent, the gift of 
a great prince may be. Every sailor, as he stepped 
ashore, became a soldier, armed himself with his 
shield which he took from the vessel's side, and a 
sword, the best in the world, dearer to him than all 
other treasures, made by the chief, or by a famous 

The Britons marked the chief long before he 
landed, for he stood at the prow or gave orders. His 
corselet was of beaten gold or bronze, his helmet 
too. If indeed he were a great champion, he carried 
on his helmet a pair of eagle's wings, or a cock's 
comb, as the reward of his bravery and skill in 
battle. All these men had been soldiers since they 
were twelve years old. They had learned "to run, 
to ride, to swim, to wrestle and to leap," so it 
is no wonder that the Britons fled before them in 
terror. Some fell into the hands of these stern 
warriors and became their servants, but those who 
lived in peace in the mountains of the west were 
called "Welsh," i.e. "foreigners," by all who heard 
of them afterwards. The Scots vanished into their 
fastnesses and the Saxons became lords of Britain. 

The Saxons loved fighting and hunting, but when 
the hunt and the fight were over they came back 
to their spacious halls, where they hung up their 
swords and trophies and gathered round the ban- 
quet table or sat by the fire, making rhymes and 
listening to the tales and songs of the gleemen. 
While the mead cup was being passed round, they 


heard the songs about the gods and the great 
heroes of old, and sometimes they Hked to think 
that Odin took a seat amongst them and told 
his tale. Odin, the one-eyed father of all the gods, 
crept in with a scarlet cloak wrapped round him, 
feasted with them, and, at dawn, the doors of the 
hall opened mysteriously, a great wind blew, and he 
was gone. 

They had many stories about the gods and Val- 
halla, the home of the spirits, whither every good 
soldier hoped to journey at the end of his life. 
Thor was the great god of thunder ; you could see 
his red beard, when the Northern light shone in 
the winter sky. Sometimes he drove by in his 
chariot with the sound of a storm, the lightning 
was the flash of his eye, and the thunder his 
mighty hammer striking the rocks as he passed. 

The most beloved of the gods of the northmen 
was Baldur, the god of Spring. Once, he had a 
dream that a great cloud passed over him, and 
his mother, in sorrow, summoned all the things 
upon the earth to promise never to hurt her son. 
Everything promised, the mountains and the trees 
and the rocks and the rivers, everything except the 
little mistletoe, which grew at the palace gate and 
was so small that nobody thought it could do 
any harm. But Loki, the god of mischief, Baldur 's 
brother, guided the hand of bHnd Hodur and so 
killed Baldur with an arrow made from the mistletoe. 

Odin was very angry when he heard the news and 
mounted his war horse to ride to Valhalla, to fetch 
Baldur from the home of the spirits. But the old 


witch, who sat at the gates, would not let Baldur 
return to the earth until she heard that everything 
on the earth was weeping for him. Everything did 
weep, except Loki and the little mistletoe. So the 
witch allows Baldur to come back for three months 
every year, and then the earth puts on her freshest 
green, the flowers blossom, the corn ripens, and 
gods and men rejoice. Thus, the Saxons showed 
how much they loved the sunshine and the warmth 
and the south winds that come in the summer time. 
When a hero died, the Saxons sent him on his 
journey to Valhalla, with food enough to last a week 
and with all his treasures, his sword and helmet, 
his hunting trophies and his most loved things. 
They liked best of all to send him on his boat 
across the unknown seas. They towed it to the 
harbour mouth, set fire to it, when the sun was 
going down, shouting as they watched it drift away, 
"Odin, receive thy Champion." They fancied Odin 
sat in the far North with all the gods waiting 
to welcome a brave man and to give him a seat of 
honour in his hall. For the Saxons thought a brave 
soldier the noblest of all men. 



Though the Saxons loved fighting, they soon 
learned to love peace and to rule their kingdoms 
well. They divided the spoil amongst themselves 


and the cliiefs rewarded their soldiers with lands. 
They built their villages as near the streams as they 
could, so that they might get water easily. They 
built them near the woods, if possible, so that they 
could get timber to build their houses and fuel for 
the winter; but not so near that an enemy could 
spring on them suddenly without a warning, or the 
packs of hungry wolves come prowling round in 
the long, dark nights. Any stranger who came in 
sight of the village must blow his horn three times 
loudly, else the Saxons killed him, for they feared 
anyone they did not know. 

The soldiers who settled in the village were free- 
men, and they shared in the harvest of the soil. 
Only half the land was ploughed for seed and the 
other half was left fallow or idle for a year. In the 
ploughed land, they planted wheat or rye one year 
and barley next time, after a year's rest. Some- 
times they divided the land and planted wheat in 
one half in October and barley in the other in 
March. When the ploughing was done, they were 
all very careful to throw up a little heap of earth to 
make a ridge between the strips in each field, so 
that each freeman might know his own strip in the 
wheat field and in the barley field too. He made 
bread from the wheat or rye and a drink from the 
barley, and if there were any to spare he would 
exchange it for some of the things he wanted very 
much, honey perhaps, for everybody needed that 
when there was no sugar. 

Beyond the ploughed lands, there was a piece of 
common ground, where all the freemen turned out 


their geese and cows and sheep and pigs, though 
the pigs hked the woods better, for there they could 
find acorns and hazel nuts. 

There was a hayfield,too, and, when spring came, 
a fence was put all round it and it was carefully 
divided into strips, so that ever^^one had a share of 
the hay. The "hayward" was a busy man, for it was 
his duty to keep the woods, corn and meadows. In 
haytime, he looked after the mowers. In August, 
he was to be seen, rod in hand, in the cornfields, 
watching early and late, so that no beasts strayed 
and trampled down the corn. 

When Lammastide came, all the freemen kept 
holiday for joy that harvest time had come. 

Now, there was sure to be one man who had 
more treasure than the others, and oxen perhaps 
for the plough. It was very hard work trying to 
plough the fields with less than eight, so the other 
freemen were glad to borrow the oxen sometimes. 
But the chief, the rich man, made a bargain, that 
those who borrowed his oxen should pay him by 
doing three days' work a week for him in his fields, 
for they had no money. So, in time, he became lord 
over them. 

Then he made a mill where all the corn should 
be ground into flour and every man who brought a 
sackful must pay so many handfuls of flour to the 
miller for his trouble. Not every village had a mill, 
so it sometimes happened that men travelled far 
to make a bargain with the miller, for they found 
it slow w^ork to grind their own corn between the 
grindstones at home. 


From an old writing ^ that we have still, we can 
find out many things about the peasants, for they 
tell how they spend their time. The ploughman 
says: **I work hard. I go out at daybreak driving 
the oxen to the field and I yoke them to the plough. 
Be it never so stark winter I dare not linger at home 
for awe of my lord, but having yoked my oxen and 
fastened share and coulter, every day I must plough 
a full acre or more. I have a boy driving the oxen 
with a goad-iron, who is hoarse with cold and 
shouting. And I do more also. I have to fill the bins 
of the oxen with hay, and water them and take out 
their litter. Mighty hard work it is, for I am not 
free." The shepherd says: "In the first morning 
I drive my sheep to their pasture and stand over 
them in heat and in cold, with my dogs, lest the 
wolves swallow them up ; and I lead them back to 
their folds and milk them twice a day, and their folds 
I move, and I make cheese and butter and I am true 
to my lord," 

The oxherd says: ''When the ploughman un- 
yokes the oxen, I lead them to pasture and all night 
I stand over them waking against thieves ; and then 
again in the early morning I betake them, well- 
filled and watered, to the ploughman." 

The King's hunter says : "I braid me nets and set 
them in fit places and set my hounds to follow up the 
wild game, till they come unsuspecting to the net and 
are caught therein, and I slay them in the net. With 
swift hounds I hunt down wild game. I take harts 
and boars and bucks and roes and sometimes wild 

^ iElfric's Dialogues. 


hares. I give the King what I take because I am 
his hunter. He clothes me well and feeds me and 
sometimes gives me a horse or an arm-ring that I 
may pursue my craft merrily." 

The fisherman says: *'I go on board my boat and 
cast my net into the river and cast my angle and 
baits and what they catch I take. I cast the un- 
clean fish away and take the clean for meat. The 
citizens buy my fish. I cannot catch as many as 
I could sell, eels and pike, minnows and trout and 
lampreys. Sometimes I fish in the sea, but seldom, 
for it is a far row for me to the sea. I catch there 
herring and salmon, porpoises and sturgeon and 
crabs, mussels, periwinkles, sea-cockles, plaice and 
fluke and lobsters and many of the like. It is a 
perilous thing to catch a whale. It is pleasanter for 
me to go to the river with my boat than to go with 
many boats whale-hunting." 

The fowler says: "In many ways I trick the 
birds — sometimes with nets, with snares, with lime, 
with whistling, with a hawk, with traps. My hawks 
feed themselves and me in winter, and in Lent I let 
them fly off to the woods and I catch me young 
birds in harvest and tame them. But many feed 
the tamed ones the summer over, that they have 
them ready again." 

The merchant says: 'T go aboard my ships with 
my goods, and go over sea and sell my things and 
buy precious things which are not produced in this 
country and bring them hither to you, brocade and 
silk, precious gems and gold, various raiment and 
dye-stuffs, wine and oil, ivory, and brass and 


bronze, copper and tin, sulphur and glass and the 
like. And I wish to sell them dearer here than I 
buy them there, that I may get some profit where- 
with I may feed myself and my wife and my sons," 

While all the village people were busy at their 
work in the fields, they must have peace and order 
in the land. Every week, the lord and the freemen 
met together under the great oak tree to talk about 
business. If they heard of any evil deed done near 
their village, the lord rode out at the head of all the 
men who could ride or run, to find the evil doer, 
and they searched for miles, shouting ''Hi! Hi!" 
and if they passed through any village, they sum- 
moned every freeman to follow in the chase. When 
the thief was found, he was brought back to his own 
village, and if he could not find any who would 
stand by him as "oath helpers," then none would 
listen to his tale. They said that only the great god 
could judge, so they prayed that Odin would send 
a sign. Sometimes, they bound the prisoner hand 
and foot and threw him into the village pond ; if he 
floated they said, "He is not guilty." Sometimes, 
they burned the prisoner with hot irons or made 
him thrust his hand into boiling water; then the 
wounds were bound up ; and if, after three days, 
they were healed and there was no scar, they said, 
"He is not guilty." But this did not happen often. 

Sometimes, if the man had a bad character, they 
branded him on the forehead with the sign of a 
wolf's head and took him to the forest, where he 
had to live all the rest of his life, for no one would 
have an outlaw in a village. If a man were afraid of 


being made an outlaw, he must find a great lord and 
ask him to protect him. If the man promised to 
work for a lord or gave him a present of fish or 
corn or honey every year he could find a lord. If 
it should happen that he were caught by the Hue 
and Cry, on that day the word of his lord in his fa- 
vour was worth more than the words of six freemen 
against him. So most people worked for a lord. 

As time went on, the King began to call the lords 
and freemen together to ask them about a great 
war, or to make some new laws. They did not like 
going very much, for travelling was troublesome and 
dangerous. So the King usually asked only his cup- 
bearer and chamberlain and the great men of his 
court for advice. 



Some there were who had heard of Christ in the 
old days, but a band of monks landing on the coast 
of Kent brought the news again to this country. 
Pope Gregory had sent Augustine from Rome to 
tell the Saxons about Christ, for he was sorry that 
they loved Odin and Thor, and did not know any 
other god. Ethelbert, the King of Kent, had a 
Christian wife, and he was very anxious to know 
what these strangers had to say about the new God. 
But he was afraid that they might know how to 
work charms and to call out wicked spirits, so he let 


Augustine and his monks preach to the people out 
of doors, for he thought that they could not harm 
any one in the open air. When the Roman monks 
preached, many people became Christians, but the 
old Saxon poets sang sorrowful stories of Odin's 
anger, and how the gods had left the world for ever 
because the people were not faithful. Bede tells a 
story of how the old wise men of Northumbria met 
together to decide whether they would give up the 
old gods for Christ or not, and as they sat in solemn 
silence, thinking of this great thing, an old man rose 
and said, "The present life of man, O King, seems to 
me like the swift flight of a sparrow, who on a wintry 
night darts into the hall, as we sit at supper. He flies 
from the storms of wind and rain outside, and for a 
brief space abides in the warmth and light, and then 
vanishes again into the darkness whence he came. So 
is the life of man, for we know not whence we came 
nor whither we go. Therefore if this stranger can tell 
us anything more certain, we should hearken gladly 
to him." Thus, they became Christians. They built 
churches in their villages ; first of wood , then of stone . 
Many Christian teachers then came to England 
and built homes or monasteries, wherever they 
went, first of rough timber, then of stone. They 
made clearings in the forests and drained the fen- 
lands, and the people followed and built houses for 
themselves near the monasteries, for they found 
that they could learn many things from the monks. 
The sick, the poor, the tired and the old were 
always welcome, and travellers too were glad to 
rest there, for there were no inns in those days. 


The monks were ruled by an abbot, and the 
nuns, who lived in other houses, by an abbess. 
They took a vow of poverty and thought that they 
served God best by giving their time to prayer and 

They loved their monastery, and, as the centuries 
went by, they made it more and more beautiful. 
The people gave rich offerings and builders came 
from foreign lands, skilled in stonework and other 
arts. Carvings were made for the church, pictures 
were painted on the walls, and flowers and trees 
were brought from the Holy Land to plant in the 
gardens. In this way came the cedar trees and the 
juniper, and certain plants that now grow wild in 
parts of the country like the poisonous hellebore, 
the grape hyacinth and the little fritillary or snake's 
head. Great men brought gifts of frankincense and 
myrrh, to be burned in the church on holy days, or 
jewels for the altar, and silk from the east for hang- 
ings, but the greatest treasure of all was the "rehc." 
People would travel many miles to see this, for those 
who saw it could be healed of their sickness or for- 
given for their sins. There were many curious 
relics. There were little bits of wood, that men 
believed belonged to the real cross, on which 
Christ was crucified, and thorns, which were said 
to have come from His crown. S. Louis, King of 
France, built the beautiful Sainte Chapelle in 
Paris, where he might keep the crown of thorns, 
which the Crusaders brought from Palestine. 

The monastery was usually built round a square 
garden or lawn. On one side was the church, on 
another the hall and large kitchens and pantries, 
B.B.I. 2 


for there were often visitors, some of high estate, 
and they must be royally feasted. In the Rule of 
S. Benedict it was written, "Let all guests who 
come to the monastery be entertained like Christ 
Himself; because He will say, ' I was a stranger and 
ye took me in'." The guest-house must stand 
apart " so that the guests, who are never wanting in 
a monastery, may not disquiet the brethren by their 
untimely arrivals." Anyone could claim a lodging for 
two nights, and in a few monasteries there was sta- 
bling provided for as many as three hundred horses. 
There was a long dormitory where the monks 
slept. It was the custom for them to get up at 
midnight to make a procession into the church by 
the night stairs. There they said matins and lauds 
(the last three psalms), and then returned to the 
dormitory to sleep if it were winter until daybreak, 
if summer till sunrise. Only those who had worked 
hard in the fields all day were excused. They 
dressed by the light of the wicks set in oil in little 
bowls at either end of the dormitory. 

In the cloisters were troughs for washing before 
meals, filled with water by taps; and above were 
little cupboards for towels. 

Some monasteries had a library, for they were 
quite rich in books. Then there was a writing 
room, where the scribes were busy making beautiful 
copies of the precious books, some skilled in 
writing, others in painting and illuminating. 
When the writing was done, the artist brought his 
colours to make the capital letters and the little 
pictures in the text. There was music to be copied 
too, and the accounts of the Abbey must be kept 




A. Round this court, stables and barns. H. Guest houses and abbot's 
quarters. N. The Church. I. The kitchen. K. The dining hall. M. The 
dormitories. P. Cells of the scribes. R. The hospital. 

B>ii«»wCTSi^iKrwSHwj S 


neatly. Sometimes a chronicle was made of great 
events that happened. It is from such books as 
these that we have learned much about the story 
of the country. 

The monks led peaceful lives in days when most 
men were busy about war. 

The monks divided the hours between sunrise 
and sunset into twelve equal parts, so it happened 
that the hour in winter was twenty minutes shorter 
than in summer. Every three hours, there was a 
service in church, prime at the first, terce at the 
third, sext at the sixth and none at the ninth. 
After prime, on summer mornings, the monks 
were summoned by the Abbot to the chapter house 
and there each man received his task. The latest 
business was talked about and plans were made for 
the coming guests. Then each monk went to his 
business, some to the gate to give food to the poor 
and help to the sick, some to work in the orchard 
and garden, to spin or to weave, though in some 
monasteries this kind of work was done for the 
brethren. They had their first meal at midday in 
the hall in silence. While they ate, one of their 
number, who had already had his meal, would 
read to them from a book of sermons or the Lives 
of the Saints. After grace, the Miserere (Psalm 51) 
was sung through the cloister. In summer, they 
would rest in the afternoon, in the dormitory or 
perhaps in the cloister, on the sunny south side, 
where they could read or think or pray. In winter, 
they worked at this time, because their nights 
were long. Vespers was read at sunset, then came 
supper. Compline ended the day, but it sometimes 

2 — 2 


happened that they Ungercd in the warming-house 
to chat with one another, but this was against rules. 

Kings and princes found out what wise coun- 
sellors these men were and brought them to the 
courts to help them govern, though this was 
against the rules of the monastic orders. 

Then, in those days. Abbots began to ride forth 
like princes, monasteries were full of treasure and 
monl<:s forsook the humbler ways of life they had 
once followed. 



After the Saxons had been in England many years, 
when their weapons had grown rusty and they had 
almost forgotten how to fight, bands of Danes came 
sailing over the North Sea to plunder the land. 
"God Almighty sent forth these fierce and cruel 
people like swarms of bees," says the chronicler. 
First, they carried away the beautiful things from 
the monasteries and churches, and then they came 
to live here. They drove the Saxons from their 
houses or built new villages by the side of the old 
ones. We know that they must have settled in 
Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, in Westmorland and 
Cumberland, because they gave Danish names to 
many places, such as Grimsby (G rim's town), 
Whitby, Appleby. In those days, the Danes grew 
very bold. "Ships came from the west ready for 
war with grinning heads and carven beaks," runs 
the legend, "the golden war banner" shining in the 
bows. They tried to conquer the west and south, 


as well as the north and east. In the land of the West 
Saxons, many battles were fought, and still the little 
band of hungry, worn-out soldiers stood at bay. 

It was at this time that Alfred was made King 
and, like his father and brothers, was soon defeated 
and driven into Athelney, a little island in the 
west in the midst of a great swamp. There, he 
spent the winter drilling his soldiers and making 
plans to drive away the Danes in the spring time. 
A story is told of how he went into the Danish 
camp as a bard. He carried a harp, and while the 
mead cup was handed round, he sang the old sagas. 
When the feast was done and the chess board was 
brought out, the captains talked about the war, as 
they played their favourite game. So Alfred heard 
their plans. 

The Danes were surprised when the spring came, 
for Alfred drove them out of his kingdom and made 
them promise never to come into the land of the 
West Saxons again. 

But he did not try to drive them out of England, 
for he knew that it would be many years before his 
people would be strong enough, perhaps not until 
his own children were grown up. So he worked 
hard all his life to make his people good soldiers 
and thoughtful men, in order that, when the time 
came, they could drive the enemy across the seas 
and rule over the whole land in their stead. 

"Formerly," said the King, "foreigners sought 
wisdom and learning in this land, now we should 
have to get them from abroad if we would have 
them." Alfred found his nobles careless and idle, 
they loved hunting and feasting and thought very 


little about ruling a kingdom or leading an army. 
They were too old to learn, but the king made up 
his mind that their children should grow up good 
soldiers and wise rulers. So he made a school at 
his court for these boys. There they learned the 
art of war and many other things too. 

They read the history of their own country from 
Bede's Book, that had been kept at York. This 
book was v^ritten in Latin, so the King had to have 
it translated for them. He had heard of the fame of 
a great writer, Asser, who lived in South Wales. 
Messages were sent to him to ask him to come to 
Alfred's court to write the history of the reign. 
Asser did not wish to leave his beautiful home, but 
in the end, he promised to stay for six months 
every year; that is why we know so much about 
this great King. 

Alfred turned into English some beautiful old 
Latin books that taught men how to rule well, and 
in the margins he himself wrote what he thought 
wise counsel. Two of these books had been 
written by Pope Gregory who sent Augustine to 
England, and at the beginning of one of them there 
are these words, "Alfred, King, turned each word 
of me into English and sent me to his writers, 
north and south, and bade them make more such 
copies that he might send them to the bishops." 

Alfred loved reading and he wrote down all the 
wise sayings that he found. Asser tells the story of 
how the King came to do this. 

"When we were one day sitting together in the 
royal chamber and were holding converse upon 


divers topics, as our wont was, it chanced that I 
repeated to him a quotation from a certain book. 
And when he had hstened attentively to this with 
all his ears, and had carefully pondered it in the 
deep of his mind, suddenly he showed me a little 
book which he carried constantly in the fold of his 
cloak. In it were written the Daily Course and 
certain psalms and some prayers, which he had 
read in his youth, and he commanded that I should 
write that quotation in the same little book. And 
when he urged me to write that as quickly as pos- 
sible, I said to him, 'Are you willing that I should 
write the quotation apart by itself on a small 
leaf? For we know not that at some time we shall 
not find some other such quotation or more than 
one, which will please you : and if it should so turn 
out unexpectedly we shall rejoice that we have kept 
this apart from the rest.' 

"And when he heard this, he said 'Your counsel 
is good.' And I, hearing this and being glad, made 
ready a book of several leaves, in haste, and at the 
beginning of it I wrote that quotation according to 
his command. And on the same day, by his order, 
I wrote in the same book no less than three other 
quotations pleasing to him, as I had foretold." 

"This book he used to call his handbook, because 
with the utmost care he kept it at his hand day and 
night and in it he found, as he said, no small com- 

Alfred desired to hear of other lands, but there 
were hardly any maps in those days and no books of 
geography. Great travellers were welcomed at his 


court, for, when he was very young, he had paid a 
visit to Rome and had seen a little of foreign lands. 
Othere, the famous seaman, who had sailed in the 
Arctic regions, came to tell his stories of the frozen 
seas that men could walk upon and of the strange 
midnights when the sun shone as bright as by 
day. Othere spoke of whales and walruses and he 
brought their tusks of fine ivory to show the King. 
Wulfstan came, too, and he had travelled in Prussia 
and brought stories of a land rich in honey and fish. 

Travellers came from the hot lands, from India 
and the far east. They brought presents of tiger 
skins and spices, of rich silks and jewels. They told 
stories of wonderful deserts, of the high snowy 
mountains and thick jungles, that they had passed 
on their long journey. The King delighted to read 
of elephants and lions and of "the beast we call 
lynx" that men said could see through trees and 
even stones. 

"Or what shall I say," says the chronicler, "con- 
cerning the daily intercourse with the nations 
which dwell from the shores of Italy unto the utter- 
most bounds of Ireland } for I have seen and read 
letters and gifts sent to Alfred by Elias, patriarch 
of Jerusalem." 

In this way the West Saxon folk heard of great, 
unknown countries and peoples, and the sons of 
the nobles learned not only "to run, to ride, to 
swim and to make runes or rhymes," but to be 
great rulers and adventurers as their forefathers 
had been. 

Alfred was a very busy King, for not only had 


he to receive ambassadors and counsellors, but he 
had to ride through the land, seeing justice done, 
and restoring the ruined churches and monasteries. 
He taught the workers in gold and artificers of all 
kinds, "to build houses majestic and good, beyond 
all that had been built before. What shall I say of 
the cities and towns which he restored, and of the 
others which he built, where before there had 
never been any } Or of the work in gold and silver, 
incomparably made under his directions? Or of 
the halls and royal chambers wonderfully made of 
stone and wood by his command ? Or of the royal 
residences built of stone, moved from their former 
positions and most beautifully set up in more fitting 
places by the King's command.?" 

The King gave many gifts to the craftsmen whom 
he had gathered from all lands, men skilled "in 
every earthly work," and he gave a portion "to the 
wayfaring men who came to him from every nation, 
lying near and far, and who sought from him wealth, 
and even to those who sought it not." 

There were no clocks in those days and the King 
was much troubled, "for he had promised to give 
up to God half his services." "He could not 
equally distinguish the length of the hours by night, 
on account of the darkness : and oftentimes of the 
day, on account of storms and clouds." "After long 
reflection on these things he at length, by a useful 
and shrewd invention, commanded his chaplain to 
supply wax in sufficient quantities." "He caused 
the chaplain to make six candles of equal length, 
so that each candle might have twelve divisions 


marked upon it. These candles burned for twenty- 
four hours, a night and a day. But sometimes, 
from the violence of the wind, which blew through 
the doors and windows of the chambers or the 
canvas of the tents, they burned out before their 
time. The King then considered by what means he 
might shut out the wind ; and so he ordered a lantern 
which was closed up, by the King's command, by a 
door made of horn. By this means, six candles 
lasted twenty-four hours, and when they went out 
others were lighted." 

Thus the King left behind him as he wished "a 
memory in good works," and, after him, his son and 
daughter drove the Danes eastward beyond Wat- 
ling Street. 

The northmen came back with the strong King 
Cnut, who conquered the whole country. Now 
Cnut was a great king before he took England, for 
he ruled Sweden and Denmark and was lord over 
Norway. When he was crowned King of England, 
he began to love this kingdom more than all his 
lands, and he made his home in London. He 
wanted to be a real English King, so he looked for 
the old laws of Alfred the Great and told the Eng- 
lish people that he would rule as Alfred had done. 

The King had a fine army of tall, strong soldiers, 
but he sent nearly all of them back to their own land 
and kept only three thousand house-companions 
for a body guard. The English people knew that he 
trusted them, for he could not have kept the land in 
order with so few soldiers, if the people had hated 
him. For seventeen years, there was a great peace 


in the land and ships could pass to and fro, carrying 
"skins, silks, costly gems and gold, besides gar- 
ments, wine, oil, ivory, with brass and copper, and 
tin and silver and glass and such like." 

When Cnut's two sons had reigned in the land, 
then the Saxons once more had a Saxon King. 



Edward the Confessor, the Saxon prince, had 
taken refuge in Normandy in the days when the 
Danish Kings ruled in England. There he learned 
to speak Norman French and to love Norman ways. 
When the Saxons chose him to be king, he brought 
some of his Norman friends to court with him. He 
was a man "full of grace and devoted to the service 
of God." He left the rule of his kingdom to 
three Saxon Earls, Siward the Stout, a man who 
struck terror to the hearts of the Scots, Leofric of 
the Marsh land, "wise in the things of God and 
men," and Godwin of Wessex. 

There was much trouble because there were no 
heirs to the throne, and the Norman chroniclers say 
that the King promised his crown to William, Duke 
of Normandy. The Saxons did not know this, and 
if they had they would not have crowned him ; so they 
chose Harold, son of Godwin and brother of the 
Queen, to rule after Edward the Confessor. They 
chose Harold for he was a man after their own heart, 


strong and fearless, like the heroes of old. Harold 
had two elder brothers, but they were cruel and 
lawless and the people feared them. 

The Normans told a story of how Harold had 
been wrecked on the coast of Normandy, two years 
before this, and was taken before the Duke as a 
prisoner. The Duke would not let him go until he 
had sworn, with his hand upon the holy relics, that 
he would never claim the Saxon crown. 

When Edward died, Harold forgot this oath and 
the people crowned him with much rejoicing. 
When the news reached the Duke of Normandy 
"he was in his park of Quevilly, near Rouen, with 
many knights and squires, going forth to the 
chase." He had in his hand the bow, ready strung 
and bent for the arrow. The messenger greeted 
him and took him aside to tell him. Then the Duke 
was very angry. "Oft he tied his mantle and oft he 
untied it again and he spoke to no man, neither dare 
any man speak to him." Then he bade his men cut 
down the trees in the great forests and build him 
ships to take his soldiers to England. When they 
were ready, there arose a great storm and for many 
weeks he waited by the sea shore for a fair wind and 
a good tide. Tostig, too, Harold's brother, became 
very jealous and asked for a half of the kingdom. 
And because Harold would not listen, Tostig went 
to Norway, to beg the great King Hadrada to call 
out his men and ships and sail for England. So the 
Northmen sailed up the river Humber and took 
York. Then, Harold and his soldiers marched to 
the North to fight against Tostig. When he had 


pitched his camp, he sent word to Tostig, "King 
Harold, thy brother, sends thee greeting, saying 
that thou shalt have the whole of Northumbria or 
even the third of his kingdom, if thou wilt make 
peace with him." "But," said Tostig, "what shall 
be given to the King of Norway for his trouble?" 

"Seven feet of English ground," was the answer, 
"or as much more as is needful, seeing that he is 
taller than other men." Then said the Earl, "Go 
now and tell King Harold to get ready for battle, 
for never shall the Northmen say that Tostig left 
Hadrada,King of Norway, to join the enemy." And 
when Harold departed, the King of Norway asked 
who it was that had spoken so well. "That," said 
Tostig, "was my brother Harold." When Hadra- 
da heard this he said, "That English king was a 
little man, but he stood strong in his stirrups." A 
great fight there was, and Hadrada fought fiercely, 
but he was killed by an arrow. When the sun set, 
the Northmen turned and fled, for Tostig, too, lay 
dead upon the field. That night there was a great 
feast in the Saxon camp. 

As they held wassail, a messenger came riding 
into the camp, breathless with haste, for he had 
rested not day nor night in the long ride to the 
North. He shouted to those who stood by, "The 
Normans — the Normans are come — they have 
landed at Hastings — Thy land, O King, they will 
wrest from thee, if thou canst not defend it well." 
That night, the Saxons broke up their camp and 
hurried towards London. The wise men begged 
Harold to burn the land, that the enemy might 


starve, but Harold would not, for he said, "How 
can 1 do harm to my own people?" So they rode 
off to meet the Duke near Hastings. 

Now Harold chose his battle-field very wisely, a 
rising ground, for most of his soldiers were on 
foot and many of the Normans were on horse-back 
and the King knew that it was hard riding up 
hill. So Harold stood under the Golden Dragon of 
Wessex watching the enemy below. In the front 
of the Normans rode their minstrel, throwing his 
sword into the air and catching it again, as he sang 
of the brave deeds of those knights of old, Roland 
and Oliver. Fierce was the onslaught, and soon 
the Normans turned to flee. Then were the Saxons 
so eager for the spoil that they came down from 
their high ground to chase the enemy. When the 
Duke saw this, he wheeled his men in battle array 
and the fight began again fiercer than ever. Then 
the Duke ordered a great shower of arrows to be 
shot up into the air, so that when they fell, they 
pierced many a good soldier. And Harold fell, 
shot through the eye by an arrow. Still, the Saxons 
fought on, for they held it shame to escape alive 
from the fields whereon their leader lay slain. 
That night, William pitched his tent where the 
King's banner had waved. Then came Gyda the 
mother of Harold to beg Harold's body from the 
Duke. But he gave orders that it should be buried 
by the seashore, "Harold guarded the cliffs when 
he was alive, let him guard them, now that he is 
dead," said William. 

So the King's mother and his brothers hid in the 



rocky west, in Tintagel, for fear of the Duke's 

Then did WiUiam march slowly to London, 
burning and harrying the land, and all men feared 

There is a piece of "tapestry " still kept at Bayeux 
in France, showing how England was conquered. 
It was probably made later than the reign of William 
and perhaps was intended to go round the walls of 
the choir of Bayeux Cathedral, for it has been 
measured and found to be of the right length. 
Though it is old and torn and faded, we have been 
able to learn many things from it^. 

There were few histories written in those days, 
for the Normans were too busy fighting for their 
new lands and the English were too sorrowful to 
tell their story. 



The strong men of the north had not bowed to 
William the Conqueror on the field of Hastings, 
and when they heard that he was crowned, they 
armed themselves against him. The King marched 
towards the north slowly, burning and harrying 
the land as he passed, and his path was marked by 
flaming villages and hayricks. 

1 There is a copy in Reading Museum. See Guide to Bayeux 
Tapestry, publislied by Textile Department, Victoria and Albert 


When he came into Yorkshire, he laid waste the 
land, and for nine years not an acre was tilled be- 
yond the Humber, and "dens of wild beasts and of 
robbers, to the great terror of the traveller, alone 
were to be seen." 

The Saxons fled; some died of hunger by the 
wayside, some sold themselves as slaves, and a few 
hid themselves in the Fens, a great stretch of water 
and marsh land, in the east, dotted here and there 
with islands and sometimes crossed in winter on 
sledges. There Hereward the Wake built his camp 
in the swamps of Ely and there all true men 
gathered round him. He was bold and hardy and 
even William said of him, "if there had been in 
England three such men as he, they would have 
driven out the Normans." 

The King gave orders that a causeway should be 
built across the Fens and he besieged the Saxons in 
Ely, and some said that Hereward was betrayed. 
But William pardoned him and sent him to Nor- 
mandy to command his army. Many stories are 
told of his adventures. It was said that he was slain 
one day as he slept in an orchard, for there were 
many in the King's court who envied him. 

The Conqueror was a wise king, and he desired 
to know what manner of kingdom he had con- 
quered. "He held a great council and very deep 
speech with his wise men about this land, how it 
was peopled and by what men." 

So he sent his clerks to every shire and com- 
manded them to write down on a great roll all that 
they could find out about the country. They were 


to ask of the lord and of the freemen in the villages 
and of the monks in the monasteries these ques- 
tions: How much land have you? Who gave you 
that land ? What services do you owe the King for 
it ? Have you paid them ? How many people dwell 
upon your land? How many soldiers must you 
lend to the King if need be ? How many cattle have 
you? Have you a mill? (if they had, they owed 
every third penny to the King). Have you a fish 
pond? (fish was a great luxury). 

The lords and the monks were unwilling to 
answer, for they knew they must pay to the King all 
that was due . "So narrowly d id the King make them 
seek out all this that there was not a single yard of 
land (shameful it is to tell, though he thought it no 
shame to do) nor one ox, nor one cow, nor one 
swine left out, that was not set down in his rolls, and 
all these rolls were afterwards brought to him." 
These records are called Domesday Book. The 
Kings, when they desired to get money or soldiers 
from the great lords and monks, turned to the 
Domesday Book. 

When the book was brought to the King, he 
summoned the lords and freemen to come to do 
him "homage." These men came and they placed 
their hands between the King's hands and, kneeling 
before him, they promised to be the King's men 
and to follow him in time of need. "Hear, my 
lord," said the baron, "I become liege man of 
yours for life and limb . . . and I will keep faith and 
loyalty to you for life and death, God help me." 

William I made great peace in the land, and, as he 


was dying, he called his three sons to him, and to 
Robert, the eldest, he gave Normandy and to 
William Rufus, England. Then Henry turned 
sorrowfully to his father, "And what, my father, do 
you give to me?" The King replied, *T bequeath 
£500 to you from my treasury." Then said Henry, 
"What shall I do with this money, having no 
corner of the earth I can call my own-f*" But his 
father replied, "My son, be content with your lot 
and trust heaven, Robert will have Normandy and 
William England. But you also in your turn will 
rule over the lands which are mine and you will be 
greater and richer than either of vour brothers." 

Rufus ruled over England thirteen years, and he 
was hated by the people. Robert gave Normandy 
to his brother for a sum of money ; and thus Henry, 
when Rufus was dead, became Duke of Normandy 
and King of England. He married a Saxon lady 
and "there was great awe of him in the land, he 
made peace for man and beast." 



The Norman barons who came to England with 
William the Conqueror were much disappointed, 
for they had hoped to share the kingdom with him 
and to be great lords. But WiUiam had not given 
them as much land as they desired, and he had 
made Domesday Book so that they should render 


to him due service and payment in return for his 
gifts. The barons had not always paid that which 
they owed ; and Henry I made a rule that all should 
come to his Court three times a year, to Winchester 
at the feast of Easter, to Westminster at Whitsun- 
tide and to Gloucester at Mid-winter, when he 
wore his crown, and then they should do homage 
and pay their taxes. 

To this court came the officers of the household, 
and the King appointed a Bishop to receive the 
money and priests to keep the accounts, since there 
were few among the nobles or citizens who could 
read, write and add figures. The money was 
counted out on a chequered table, and so the court 
came to be called the Exchequer. 

The barons could not easily cheat the King ; for, 
when their money had been counted out upon the 
table, some of it was melted on the furnace, lest it 
should contain base metal, and it was weighed in 
the balances, lest the coins should have been 
clipped. Then Domesday Book was searched and 
the priests read out what sum was due to the King 
from this lord. 

When the Chancellor was satisfied, a tally was 
handed to the baron. This was a willow or hazel 
stick, shaped something like the blade of a knife, 
about an inch thick. Notches were cut in it to 
show the amount paid and the halfpennies were 
marked by small holes. The tally was then split 
down the middle through the notches, and the 
baron took one half so that he might show it to 
the Chancellor when he came to court to pay again, 



and the Chancellor kept the other half to prove 
that the baron was not cheating. Thus the King 
kept his barons in order and there was peace in 
the land. 

Now Henry I had an only son, and to him he 
gave a ship, "a better one than which there did not 
seem to be in the fleet," but as he was sailing from 
Normandy to England, it struck upon a rock and 
all perished, save only a butcher, who was found in 
the morning clinging to a plank. 

When the King heard the news, he was in great 
distress ; for no woman had yet ruled in England 
and his daughter Matilda was married to a French 
Count, whom all the Normans hated for his fierce 
temper and overbearing ways. The King, never- 
theless, made them swear to put her on the throne, 
but, when he died, the barons chose her cousin, 
Stephen, for *'he was a mild man, soft and good, 
and did no justice." 

Stephen quarrelled with the Chancellor and 
closed the Court of Exchequer where the barons 
had paid their dues, and he let the barons build 
castles and coin their own money. When he was 
in need of soldiers, he hired foreign ruffians, and 
because he could not pay them, he let them loose 
upon the land to plunder: thus he "undid all his 
cousins had done." 

"The barons forswore themselves and broke 
their troth, for every nobleman made him a castle 
and held it against the King and filled the land full 
of castles. They put the wretched country folk to 
sore toil with their castle-building; and, when the 


castles were made, they filled them with devils and 
evil men. Then they took all those that they deem- 
ed had any goods, both by night and day, men and 
women alike, and put them in prison to get their 
gold and silver, and tortured them with tortures un- 
speakable. Many thousands they slew with hunger. 
I cannot nor may not tell all the horrors and all the 
tortures that they laid on wretched men in the land. 
And this lasted nineteen winters, while Stephen 
was King, and ever it was worse and worse. 

" They laid taxes on the villages continually, and, 
when the wretched folk had no more to give them, 
they robbed and burned all the villages, so that 
thou mightest easily fare a whole day's journey and 
shouldst never find a man living in a village nor a 
land tilled. Then was corn dear, and flesh and 
cheese, and there was none in the land. 

"If two or three men came riding to a village, all 
the village folk fled before them, deeming them to 
be robbers. Wheresoever men tilled, the earth bore 
no corn, for the land was fordone with such deeds, 
and they said openly that Christ and His Saints 
slept. Such, and more than we can say, we suffered 
nineteen winters for our sins." Then Stephen 
made a treaty with Matilda's son Henry and pro- 
mised him the crown of England ; for Henry was 
already a great prince, holding more lands than the 
monarch of France. Moreover, he was valiant in 
battle, strong in the Council chamber and never 
weary . The French King said of him , ' ' Henry is now 
in England, now in Ireland, now in Normandy, he 
may be rather said to fly than go by horse or boat." 


Henry II could ride all night and, if need were, 
sleep in the saddle. "His legs were bruised and 
livid with riding." "He was given beyond measure 
to the pleasures of hunting ; and he would start off 
the first thing in the morning on a fleet horse and 
now traversing the woodland glades, now plunging 
into the forest itself, now crossing the ridges of the 
hills, would in this manner pass day after day in 
unwearied exertion; and when, in the evening, he 
reached home, he was rarely seen to sit down 
whether before or after supper. In spite of all the 
fatigue he had undergone, he would keep the whole 
court standing." 

This tireless ruler, before he became King, had 
restored order in England, for he commanded the 
hired soldiers to be gone immediately, and they 
went as they had come like a flight of locusts. He 
destroyed more than a thousand castles, and those 
that were well built he kept for himself. "All folk 
loved him, for he did good justice." 

He opened the Court of Exchequer, so that the 
Barons were forced to pay all they owed Stephen 
for the nineteen years of his reign. He visited all 
the courts of justice in the land, and no man durst 
do evil, for none knew where the King might be. 
He appointed judges to travel round the country 
and to sit at Westminster and hear complaints, for 
many had sought the King in vain, so swiftly did 
he travel from place to place. Thus the barons 
were made to fear the King and rule justly. 




There came one day, to the Abbey of Bee in Nor- 
mandy, a great scholar named Lanfranc. The 
Abbot was building an oven, ''working at it with 
his own hands. Lanfranc came up and said, *God 
save you.' 'God bless you,' said the Abbot Herl- 
win. 'Are you a Lombard?' 'I am,' said Lanfranc. 
'What do you want.?' 'I want to become a monk.' 
Then the Abbot bade a monk named Roger, who 
was doing his work apart, to show Lanfranc the 
book of S. Benedict's Rule; which he read and 
answered that, with God's help, he would gladly 
observe it. Then the Abbot, hearing this and 
knowing who he was and from whence he came, 
granted him what he desired. And he, falling down 
at the mouth of the oven, kissed Herlwin's feet." 

The fame of the Abbey of Bee spread far and 
wide. "Under Lanfranc," said the chronicler, "the 
Normans first fathomed the art of letters ; for under 
the six dukes of Normandy, scarce anyone among 
the Normans had applied to studies, nor was there 
rny teacher found, till God, the Provider of all 
things, brought Lanfranc to Normandy." 

He was William the Conqueror's friend and 
counsellor and brought the Church into much 
honour when he became Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Among the strangers, who came to Bee, was 
Anselm. He had long desired to be a monk and had 


travelled over the Alps from Italy to join the order. 
When he v^^as young, he used "to listen gladly to 
his mother, and having heard from her that there is 
one God in Heaven above, ruling all things, he ima- 
gined that Heaven rested on the mountains, that 
the palace of God was there and that the way to it 
was up the mountains." Before he was fifteen, he 
had written to a certain Abbot asking him to make , 
him a monk, but he would not, when he heard that 
Anselm had not spoken to his father about it. 

Anselm was a scholar, too, and men counted it a 
great thing to have been taught by him. "He be- 
haved so that all men loved him as their dear 
father." If any were sick, he nursed them ; if any 
angry, he sought them out. It was said that even 
the King, Rufus, so harsh and terrible to all others, 
in his presence became gentle and gracious. 

When he was Abbot of Bee, he gave so much to 
the poor that the monks were often in need of bread 
themselves. Many came to seek his advice, "whole 
days he would spend in giving counsel" and his 
nights in correcting the books that had been copied 

When Lanfranc died, William Rufus brought 
the kingdom into much trouble and sorrow, by 
closing churches, taking their money and refusing 
to choose an Archbishop. It happened that the 
King fell ill and messengers were sent to Anselm 
begging him to see the King and show him the 
way to health. Anselm was stern and bade the 
King confess his sins, and those who stood round 
urged him to make Anselm Archbishop. When 


the King's choice was told him, Anselm trembled 
and turned pale. "Consider I am old and unfit 
for work, how can I bear the charge of all this 
church ? I am a monk and I can honestly say I have 
shunned all worldly business. Do not entangle me 
in what I have never loved and am not fit for." 
The Archbishop of Canterbury was a great officer, 
for he anointed the King when he was crowned, 
he held many lands and must protect the Church 
against the King if need be, for the Church was 
rich and the King poor. 

The bishops and barons would not listen and 
they dragged him back to the King, shouting, "A 
pastoral staff, a pastoral staff." When they had 
found one, the King pressed it into his hand, 
though he held his fist clenched, and the crowd 
shouted, "Long live the Bishop." The Archbishop 
soon after asked for a council, for the King was 
still robbing the Church and "the Christian reli- 
gion had well-nigh perished in many men." Rufus 
was angry, "What good would come of this matter 
for you?" 

"If not for me, at least, I hope, for God and for 

"Enough, talk no more of it to me." 

The Archbishop begged the King not to rob the 
Abbeys and the King answered, "What are the 
abbeys to you .? Are they not mine ? Go to ! you do 
what you like with your farms and am I not to do 
what I like with my Abbeys?" 

"They are not yours to waste and destroy and 
use for your wars." 


The King said, "Your predecessor would not 
have dared to speak thus to my father. I will do 
nothing for you." 

Then Anselm departed with speed and left him 
to his will. 

"Yesterday," said the King, "I hated him much, 
to-day still more ; to-morrow and ever after, he may 
be sure I shall hate him with more bitter hatred. 
As Father and Archbishop I will never hold him 
more ; his blessing and prayers I utterly abhor and 

Anselm asked leave to go to Rome, for the Arch- 
bishop must wear the white stole, woven from the 
wool of the sheep of S. Agnes in Rome and blessed 
by the Pope "the Father of all Christian people." 

"From which Pope?" said the King, for there 
were two at this time. 

"From Urban." 

"Urban," said the King, "I have not acknow- 
ledged. By my customs, and by the customs of my 
father, no man may acknowledge a Pope in England 
without my leave. To challenge my power in this 
is as much as to deprive me of my crown." 

Anselm, seeing that in no way could he bring the 
King to have respect for the Church, went to Rome 
to seek the Pope's help. He said to the bishops and 
barons, "Since you, the Shepherds of the Christian 
people, and you, who are called chiefs of the nation, 
refuse your counsel to me, your chief, except ac- 
cording to the will of one man, I will go to the 
chief shepherd and prince of all." 

The Pope honoured Anselm by giving him the 


chief seat among the Cardinals, but he kept him 
waiting at the Court, for he feared to offend all 
other kings and tyrants. 

It was the custom to read the laws of the Church 
once a year in S. Peter's Church in Rome, and there 
was gathered there a great crowd of pilgrims from 
many countries. The Bishop of Lucca, a man of 
great stature and loud voice, was chosen to read 
the laws. When he had got a little way, his eyes 
kindled and he called out, "One is sitting among us 
from the ends of the earth in modest silence, still 
and meek. But his silence is a loud cry. The 
deeper and gentler his humility and patience, the 
higher it rises before God, the more it should 
kindle us. This one-man, this one man, I say, has 
come here in his cruel afflictions and wrongs to ask 
for your judgment. And this is his second year and 
what help has he found ? If you do not all know 
whom I mean, it is Anselm, Archbishop of Eng- 
land," and he broke his staff and threw it on the 

"Brother, enough, enough," said the Pope, 
"good order shall be taken about this." 

"There is good need, for otherwise the thing will 
not pass with Him who judges justly." 

Anselm left Rome, for he knew the Pope could 
not help. With much patience and meekness, 
Anselm contended yet again with Henry I for the 
rights of the Church. Becket, too. Archbishop of 
Canterbury, the King's friend and servant, defend- 
ed it once again in the days of Henry II — even with 
his life. 




The Normans were soldiers and rulers and great 
builders too. With the white stone, which they 
found in their own land, they built magnificent 
cathedrals, abbeys and churches, for they were 
cunning craftsmen and dreamers. 

The Cathedral was vast and grand, with its 
stately pillars and roof so lofty that it was lost in 
dim shadows. The master mason, who planned it, 
took great joy in building and often travelled far to 
see the works of other men. There are pictures of 
him with his cap on his head, the sign that he was 
a master, and his compass in his hand. 

All the years of his life, the ironmaster laboured 
to cast a beautiful peal of bells. One old man died 
of joy on the day that his bells were first rung, for 
they were almost perfect. 

The Normans, who came to England, did not 
forget their art. They built Ely Cathedral in the 
midst of the Fens, and Durham, overlooking the 
river. **You might see churches rise in every 
village and monasteries in the towns and cities, 
built after a style unknown before," says William 
of Malmesbury. 

At first, they built of the rough stone found in 
the quarries worked by the Romans in other days. 
Woods were cut down to give fuel for the lime- 
kilns, and machines were devised for lifting blocks 




urn cam; 


anno pan 










of stone, roads and even waterways were made for 
this great traffic. 

So much work was there for the masons that 
there were not skilled craftsmen enough in the land 
to do all that was needed. As the years went by and 
the people gave to the Church of their riches, more 
new buildings were made and yet more decoration 
was used. Organs were built and stained glass of 
lovely hues was put in the windows, orange and 
blue and red, colours so rich they seemed almost to 
have caught and held the sunlight. 

A monk, who was also an artist, wrote "Man's 
eye knoweth not whereon to gaze ; if he look up at 
the vaults, they are as mantles embroidered with 
spring flowers; if he regard the walls, there is a 
manner of paradise ; if he consider the light stream- 
ing through the windows, he marvelleth at the 
priceless beauty of the glass and at the variety of 
this most precious work." 

So full of riches were these buildings that S. Ber- 
nard, and other preachers too, called to the monks 
to remember their vows of poverty and to return to 
humbler dwellings like those they had once built 
where they might worship God. 

Round the Saxon earthworks, the Normans 
built strong walls that they might hold them 
against foreign foe or angry neighbour. By the 
rivers and on high rocks, they made great keeps or 
towers, first of timber, later of stone, where they 
could withdraw if pressed by foes. The stone walls 
were often 13 feet thick and round about there was 
a deep moat. The doorway was of stout oak 


barred with iron. Over this, they would drop the 
portcuUis, a single grate of iron, worked from a 
chamber above by cords and chains round a wind- 
lass. Across the moat, they flung a drawbridge, 
which could be raised at pleasure. There were only 
a few rooms in the keep, storerooms below and 
chambers in the two stories above, for the Norman 
lord only sought shelter there in times of siege. In 
such a tower, he was safe enough if he had plenty of 
food and a well, secure from the enemy. 

Sometimes the Normans built strong walls and 
another moat round about the keep, and towers 
where they kept watch by night and day, looking 
towards the four quarters of heaven lest an enemy 
should surprise them. 

Much later, when the lord brought his family 
and soldiers to live in the castle, they made it still 
larger. Storerooms and stables were built round 
the courtyard and above these were the chambers of 
the lord and his followers. Here was a fine larder 
and a kitchen where the ox and wild boar were 
roasted whole and the mead was brewed and brown 
bread baked. 

There was a great hall where everyone dined and 
where the servants slept at night. The floor was 
strewn with rushes, for there were no carpets until 
the days of Queen Eleanor, and then they were 
hung on the damp cold walls or put on the tables. 
Down the centre of the room ran a long table, 
sometimes fixed to the floor, sometimes on trestles, 
with wooden benches on either side, covered with 
osier matting. Under the table, the dogs gathered 




to gnaw the bones that were flung to them. For 
the meat was carried round on a spit and each man 
helped himself with a knife from his girdle. 

So strong were these castles that, though the 
enemy used a ram, it was almost impossible to 
make a breach in the walls. If they brought scaling 
ladders, it was difficult to climb when the moat ran 
below and the archers shot from the ramparts. If 
they mined beneath the rock, the defenders could 
make a counter-mine. The besiegers could bring 
catapults to hurl heavy stones upon the walls, and 
siege towers to shoot their arrows high. These 
attacks were usually in vain, for the garrison of a 
castle only surrendered when there was famine. 

These were days of great strife and turmoil, and 
strong was the King in whose reign it was said that 
"a man might travel through his realm with his 
bosom full of gold, unhurt." 



In such troublous times when there was great fear 
abroad, when men feared the King, feared their 
neighbours and feared all foreigners, it seemed to 
them necessary that every lord should be trained to 
war. Yet they learned, too, to honour the courte- 
ous, gentle, generous knight, sworn to help the 
weak, and if need be to fight for the faith of Christ. 


Every knight served his lord for many years 
before he was deemed worthy of knighthood. At 
seven years old he became a page, attending his 
lord and lady in hall and bower. From the chaplain 
and the ladies he heard of gentleness and courtesy 
and love. In the field, he was taught by the squires 
to cast a spear, bear a shield, and march with 
measured tread. With falconer and huntsman, he 
sought the mysteries of wood and river. 

Then he became a squire, carving and serving in 
hall, offering the first cup of mead to his lord and 
the guests, carrying ewer and basin for them to 
wash after the meal. Upon him fell the duty of 
clearing the hall for dancing and minstrelsy and 
setting the tables for chess and draughts. 

In the field, he learned to ride a war-horse and to 
practise warlike exercises. Armed with a lance he 
tilted at the quintain, a shield bound to a pole or 
spear fastened in the ground. After the Crusades, 
the figure of a Saracen, armed at all points and 
brandishing a wooden sabre, was set up instead of 
the shield. If the squire could not strike it in the 
centre of face or breast, it revolved rapidly and 
struck him in the back. Then there was the pel, 
a post or tree stump, six feet high. This he struck 
at certain points, marked as face and breast and 
legs, covering himself at the same time with a 
shield. He must learn also to scale walls, to swim, 
to bear heat, cold, hunger and fatigue. 

If he were a "squire of the body" he bore the 
shield and armour of his lord in battle, cased and 
secured him in it and assisted him to mount his 



war-horse. To him fell the honour of defending 
the banner and securing the prisoners. If his lord 
were unhorsed, he must raise him and give him a 
new mount; if wounded, he must bear him to a 
place of safety. Froissart tells the story of a knight 
who fought as long as his breath served him and 
"at last at the end of the battle, his four squires took 
him and brought him out of the field and laid him 
under a hedgeside for to refresh him, and they un- 
armed him and bound up his wounds as well as 
they could." 

The squire did not fight unless his lord was sore 
pressed, but he kept a careful watch, as did the son 
of the King of France, at Poitiers, standing by his 
father in the melee, though he was but fifteen, 
shouting "Guard thyself on thy right, father. 
Guard thyself on thy left, father," till he was taken 

A squire might be dubbed a knight on the battle- 
field in reward for bravery, or at the age of twenty- 
one he became a knight if he so desired, and this 
was the manner of his knighting, though often some 
of these ceremonies were left out. In the evening, 
he was placed in the care of "two squires of honour, 
grave and well seen in courtship and nurture and 
also in the feats of chivalry." A barber then attend- 
ed and shaved him and cut his hair. After this he 
was led by the squires into his chamber where a 
bath was prepared, hung within and without with 
linen, and covered with rich cloths. While he was 
in the bath, " two ancient and grave knights attended 
on him, to instruct and counsel him touching the 


order and feats of chivalry." When this had been 
done, they poured some of the water of the bath 
over his shoulders, signing the left shoulder with 
the Cross. He was then taken from the bath and 
put into a plain bed without hangings, and there he 
remained until his body was dry. Then the two 
squires arrayed him in linen and a white shirt, and 
over that "a robe of russet with long sleeves, having 
a hood thereto like unto that of a hermit." In this 
way, knights of the order of the Bath were made. 

Then the "two ancient and grave knights" re- 
turned and led him to the chapel, the squires going 
before them "sporting and dancing, the minstrels 
making melody." And when they had been served 
with wines and spices they went away, leaving only 
the young squire, his companions, the priest, the 
chandler and the watch who kept the vigil of arms 
till sunrise. At daybreak he confessed to the priest, 
heard matins, took part in the service of the Mass, 
offering a taper and a piece of money stuck in the 
taper as near the lighted end as possible, the taper 
to the honour of God, the money to the honour of 
the person who made him a knight. 

Afterwards he was taken back to his chamber and 
remained in bed until the knights, squires and 
minstrels went to him and roused him. The 
knights then dressed him, mounted their horses 
and rode to the hall or the church where the new 
knight was to receive knighthood. His future 
squire rode before him, bareheaded, carrying his 
sword by the point of the scabbard with his spurs 
hanging Irom the hilt. If they rode to the hall, the 



lord there delivered the right spur "to the most 
noble and gentle knight" present and directed him 
to fasten it on the squire's right heel. The knight, 
kneeling, placed the squire's foot on his knee, fixed 
the spur and signed him with the Cross. In the 
same way, the left spur was fixed by another knight. 
And he, who was to create the new knight, took 
the sword and girded him with it, and then em- 
bracing him, lifted his right hand and smote him 
on the neck or shoulder, saying "Be thou a good 

When this was done they all went to the chapel 
with much music, and there the sword was 
sprinkled with holy water by the priest who gave 
it to the knight, saying "Receive thy sword and use 
it in thine own defence and that of the Holy Church 
of God and to the confusion of the enemies of the 
Cross of Christ and for the Christian faith." 

"Be thou a knight who lovest peace, firm, faith- 
ful and a true servant of God." Then girt with his 
sword the new knight arose, drew it from its sheath 
and waved it twice mightily over his left arm and 
put it back in the scabbard. Sometimes it happen- 
ed as he came from the chapel, that the master cook 
awaited him at the door, and claimed his spurs as 
a fee, saying, " If thou do anything contrary to the 
order of chivalry (which God forbid) I shall hack 
the spurs from thy heels." 

Some rode forth to protect "the good peace of 
the Lord their God" and some to break it. 

4— « 




If we want to know about the w ays of men in those 
days, we must read some of their tales. Many 
stories were sung and told of knightly deeds and 
adventures. There are a number that have come 
down to us about a great king, Arthur, and his 
knights, called the Knights of the Round Table. 
These are recorded in that "noble and joyous book" 
Le Morte Darthur, which Caxton printed. 

We do not know where this King lived nor are 
we sure where his kingdom lay. The English story- 
teller says he lived in Wales, but the French people 
say he lived in their land. When he was crowned 
King, those who loved him took a vow to follow 
him wherever he went. He chose twelve knights 
who promised to help the weak and suffering and to 
release men from their enemies. These were the 
Knights of the Round Table and they rode out into 
all the world to seek adventure. 

There was the good knight Sir Tristram, "the 
best chaser of the world and the noblest blower of 
an horn of all manner of measures, for, as books 
report, of Sir Tristram came all the good terms of 
hunting and all the sizes and measures of blowing 
of an horn ; and of him we had first all the terms of 
hawking and which were beast of chase and which 
were vermins and all the blasts that belonged to all 
manner of games." 


There, too, was the beloved Knight Launcelot, 
**the courteoust Knight that ever bare shield, the 
kindest man that ever struck with sword, the good- 
liest person that ever came among press of knights, 
the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in 
hall among ladies, the sternest knight to mortal foe 
that ever put spear in rest." 

King Arthur had a beautiful sword and he came 
by it in this way. Merlin, the magician, led him 
down to the shores of a great lake, and as they gazed 
upon the dark waters an arm "clothed in white 
samite" came forth, holding the sword Excalibur. 
"With that they saw a damsel going upon the lake. 
What damosel is that.? said Arthur. That is the 
Lady of the Lake, said Merlin ; and within that lake 
is a rock and therein is as fair a place as any on 
earth, and richly beseen; and this damosel will 
come to you anon and then speak ye fair to her that 
she will give you that sword. Anon withal came 
the damosel unto Arthur and saluted him and he 
her again. Damosel, said Arthur, what sword is 
that, that yonder the arm holdeth above the water? 
I would it were mine for I have no sword. Sir 
Arthur, King, said the damosel, that sword is mine, 
and if ye will give me a gift when I ask it you, ye 
shall have it. By my faith, said Arthur, I will give 
you what gift ye will ask. Well! said the damosel, 
go ye into yonder barge and row yourself to the 
sword and take it and the scabbard with you and I 
will ask my gift in time. So Sir Arthur and Merlin 
alit and tied their horses to two trees, and so they 
went into the ship , and when they came to the sword 


that the hand held, Sir Arthur took it up by the 
handles and took it with him, and the arm and the 
hand went under water." 

Then Merlin built the King a beautiful palace 
at Camelot and there they brought the Queen 
Guinevere. Now some of Arthur's knights went 
in search of the Holy Grail, a mysterious cup, that 
had disappeared because men were evil. They 
thought that if they could find it and bring it back 
to the earth again, there would be no more sorrow 
nor pain. 

One day, there came in to the court an old man, 
clothed all in white, and there was no Knight that 
knew from whence he came. And with him, both 
on foot, he brought a young Knight, in red arms, 
without a sword or shield, save a scabbard hanging 
by his side. "Sir," said the old man to King 
Arthur, "I bring you here a young Knight." Then 
the old man made the young man un-arm him, and 
he was in a coat of red sandal and bare a mantle 
upon his shoulders that was furred with fine er- 
mine, and put that upon him, and the old man said 
unto the young Knight, "Sir, follow after." And 
so he brought him unto the Siege Perilous. Now 
this was a seat at the Round Table, covered with a 
cloth, and no man durst sit in it, for Merlin had 
said that only he who should see the Holy Grail 
might sit therein without harm. "The old man 
removed the cloth and found letters written 'This 
is the siege of Sir Galahad the Good Knight'." 
"Sir," said the old man, "wit ye well, this place is 
yours." Then all the Knights of the Round Table 


marvelled greatly of Sir Galahad that he durst sit 
in that Siege Perilous." 

Then Sir Galahad took his seat in the Siege 
Perilous. "Then anon they heard cracking and 
crying of thunder, that they thought the place 
should fall. In the midst of this blast entered a 
sunbeam more clearer by seven times than ever 
they saw day and all they were alighted of the grace 
of the Holy Ghost. Then began every knight to 
behold other and either saw other, by their seem- 
ing, fairer than ever they saw afore. There was no 
Knight might speak one word a great while and so 
they looked every man on other as they had been 
dumb. Then there entered into the hall the Holy 
Grail covered with white samite, but there was 
none might see it, nor who bare it. And there was 
all the hall fulfilled with good odours and every 
knight had such meats and drinks as he best loved 
in this world. And when the Holy Grail had been 
borne through the hall, then the Holy Vessel de- 
parted suddenly that they wist not where it be- 
came; then had they all breath to speak." 

Then all the Knights of the Round Table arose 
and set forth in search of the Holy Grail, and 
through the world they wandered doing deeds of 
might and valour as they passed. But the Holy 
Grail never came back to the earth again, for not 
all the Knights were pure. Then King Arthur grew 
old and weary and was wounded unto death in 
battle. "Therefore, said Arthur unto Sir Bedivere, 
take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go with 
it to yonder water side, and when thou comest there 


I charge thee throw my sword in that water and 
come again and tell me what thou there seest. My 
lord, said Bedivere, your commandment shall be 
done, and lightly bring you word again. So Sir 
Bedivere departed and by the way he beheld that 
noble sword, that the pommel and the haft was all 
of precious stones; and then he said to himself: if 
I throw this rich sword in the water, thereof shall 
never come good but harm and loss. And then Sir 
Bedivere hid Excalibur under a tree. And so, as 
soon as might, he came again unto the King and said 
he had been at the water and had thrown the sword 
in the water. What saw thou there? said the King. 
Sir, he said, I saw nothing but waves and winds. 
That is untruly said of thee, said the King, therefore 
go thou lightly again and do my commandment, as 
thou art to me dear, spare not, but throw it in. 
Then Sir Bedivere returned again and took the 
sword in his hand, and then him thought sin and 
shame to throw away that noble sword and so again 
he hid the sword and returned again and told to the 
King that he had been in at the water and done his 
commandment. What saw thou there.? said the 
King. Sir, he said, I saw nothing but the waters 
wappe (lap) and waves wanne (ebb). Ah traitor 
untrue, said King Arthur, now hast thou betrayed 
me twice. Who would have weened that, thou that 
hast been to me so dear ? and thou that art named a 
noble Knight would betray me for the richness of 
the sword. But now go again lightly, for thy long 
tarrying putteth me in great jeopardy of my life, for 
I have taken cold. And but if thou do now as 1 bid 


thee, if ever I may see thee, I shall slay thee with 
mine own hands; for thou wouldst for my rich 
sword see me dead. Then Sir Bedivere departed, 
and went to the sword and lightly took it up and 
went to the water side; and there he bound the 
girdle about the hilts and then threw the sword as 
far into the water, as he might ; and there came an 
arm and an hand above the water and met it and 
caught it and so shook it thrice and brandished and 
then vanished away the hand with the sword in the 
water. So Bedivere came again to the King and 
told him what he saw." 

Then came the three Queens and took Arthur in 
their hands and bore him to the barge. They 
floated out across the seas towards the west and 
there was the sound as of a city rejoicing at the 
return of a hero. 



Away to the west lay the beautiful country of 
Ireland. It was known in all the world for its riches, 
and the ships of many lands were seen in its havens. 
For the rivers and seas were full of fish, the pas- 
tures gave abundant food to the flocks and herds. 
"Dark was the shadow of the corn in their fields" 
of which "great plenty was sent over-seas," and 
rich was the harvest of their orchards. Merchants 


came laden with spices, figs, pepper and ginger, 
with wine and carpets and many things from the 
east to offer in exchange for their weahh. 

It was the home of craftsmen, skilful in all man- 
ner of handiwork. They made the beautiful book 
of Kells, ''the great Gospel of Columkill, the chief 
relic of the western world on account of its un- 
equalled cover." So wonderful was their work in 
illuminating and lettering that an English writer 
who saw one of their books in 1185 said that it 
must have been done by angels, not men. 

Gold and silver were found in the land, and of 
these their goldsmiths wrought delicate ornaments • 
Their blacksmiths too were famed for fine armour 
and good weapons. 

They were weavers, and their cloth was sold in 
England; "white and green, and russet and red," 
for they had the secret of making lovely dyes. Of 
the reign of a good King it was said, "In his time, 
there was abundance of dye-stuff." Kings and 
Queens in far-off lands were anxious to buy their 
cloth for trimming mantles and gowns. The Irish 
made linen too, both fine and coarse, and leather 
gloves, shoes and belts. 

The people of Ireland were given to hospitality 
and were courteous in their ways. They loved rich 
clothes and beautiful things, and in their stories 
and songs you may still read of the fine golden gob- 
lets and beakers of horn from which they quaffed 
their ale, of the dress of cloth of gold that the lady 
donned when she entertained the poets, of the crim- 
son velvet mantle bordered with black velvet that the 


chieftain wore on feast-days. Of their wide hang- 
ing Hnen sleeves, an EngHshman wrote "30 yards 
are Httle enough for one of them." 

They were singers and makers of song Hke the 
Saxon people. They loved the harp and delighted 
in the old stories, such as you may still read, of 
the hero Cuculain and Deirdri of the Sorrows, of 
Patrick and the saints. 

William Rufus looking towards this rich country 
had said: "For the conquest of that land, I will 
gather together all the ships of my kingdom and 
will make them a bridge to cross over." But the 
King had no leisure to set sail for Ireland. 

In the days of Henry II, it befell that Dermot, 
King of Leinster, carried off the wife of O'Ruarc, 
the one-eyed, Prince of Meath, who was "heart- 
struck both by his shame and by his loss." Then 
he gathered his men together and marched against 
Dermot, "a man tall of stature and stout of frame, 
a soldier whose heart was in the fray and held 
valiant among his own nation. From often shout- 
ing his battle-cry, his voice had become hoarse. A 
man who liked better to be feared by all than loved 
by any." So his followers left him and Dermot 
sought refuge in Bristol. 

One of his men, who was sorry at his departure, 
wrote in the margin of the Book of Leinster, where 
you may still see them , these words : " O Mary ! It is 
a great deed that has been done in Erin on this day ; 
Dermot, King of Leinster and of the Foreigners, to 
have been banished bv the men of Erin over the sea 
East-wards! Uch,Uch,OLord! What shall I do?" 


Now Dermot asked help of the Normans in 
England, saying: 

Whoever shall wish for land or pence, 
Horses, trappings or chargers, 
Gold or silver, I shall give them 
A very ample pay. 
Whoever may wish for soil or sod 
Richly shall I enfeoff them. 

The Normans were glad of the promises of gold 
and of land and willingly set sail for Ireland. 
Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke, was their leader, **a 
man with reddish hair, freckled skin, grey eyes and 
tall of stature," strong in battle and of much wis- 

The King of Leinster gave him Eva, his daugh- 
ter, in marriage. Then did the Kings submit to 
Dermot, for there was much bloodshed and he 
'made Ireland a trembling sod." When the King 
died, Strongbow succeeded him, and Henry II, 
when he heard the news, was not willing that his 
barons should be lords in a new land. Therefore, 
he too set sail for Ireland that they might do him 
homage. And all the lords and chiefs came, for 
they feared him. 

Then the Norman barons built castles and 
married Irish ladies, and they no more desired to 
return to England, for Ireland was a country 
abounding in treasure. 

"The old chieftains of Erin prospered under 
these princely English lords, who were the chief 
rulers and who had given up their surliness for good 


manners, their stubbornness for sweet-mildness 
and their perverseness for hospitahty." 

So Ireland prospered, but it is not easy to find 
out its ancient history, for many of the old books 
have been lost or burnt and some have been used 
as though they were of no account. "By long lying 
shut and unused," says one writer, hundreds of 
years ago, "I could hardly read," and "by taylors 
being suffered to cut the leaves of the books in long 
pieces to make their measure" many pages are 



About this time, Francis, the son of a merchant, 
was born in Italy in the town of Assisi. When he 
grew up his parents were very proud of him and 
gave him much money, for he dressed gaily, feasted 
often and led the young men of fashion. 

Then it chanced that he fell ill and, as he lay upon 
his bed, he thought of the sick and the poor, of the 
rich monks and the idle priests, and he made up his 
mind when he grew well to live as Christ lived 
among men. 

He left his father and mother, to their great 
sorrow. He gave all he had to the poor and dwelt 
near a ruined chapel beyond the city gates. There 
he busied himself in rebuilding the chapel, and 
when he came amongst men it was with a cheerful 
countenance and a merry heart to do them service. 


Though many laughed at him, some desired to 
become his followers, "and those who took upon 
themselves that life gave away to the poor all that 
they chanced to have. And they were content with 
one tunic patched as they required, within and 
without, together with a girdle and breeches." 

In the heat of the day, on the dusty roads, S. 
Francis and his companions trudged along, singing 
songs of joy and cheering those whom they chanced 
to meet. At night, they sometimes lay out-of-doors, 
singing praises all the while of "Sister moon and 
the stars bright and precious and comely" and 
watching for the rising of the sun, "that doth 
illumine us with the dawning of day." 

For food, they laboured or begged, and of that 
which was left they gave to the poor. One day, 
when they had done their begging, they met to- 
gether to eat in a place without the city, where was 
a fine fountain and hard by a fine broad stone, upon 
which each set the alms that he had begged. 

And S. Francis, seeing that Brother Masseo's 
pieces of bread were more and finer and larger than 
his own, rejoiced with great joy and said, "Brother 
Masseo, we are not worthy of such vast treasures," 
and when he repeated many times these words, 
Brother Masseo made answer, 

"Father, how can one speak of treasure, where is 
such poverty and lack of all things whereof we are 
in need ? Here is not cloth, nor knife, nor plate, nor 
porringer, nor house, nor table, nor man-servant 
nor maid-servant." 

Quoth S. Francis, "And this it is that I account 


vast treasure, wherein is no thing at all prepared by 
human hands but whatsoever we have is given by 
God, as doth appear in the bread that we have 
broken, in the table of stone so fine and in the fount 
so clear; wherefore I will that we pray unto God 
that He make us love with all our heart the 
treasure of holy poverty, which is so noble that 
thereunto did God Himself become a servitor." 

Of his courtesy and love towards all creatures on 
the earth, many stories are told. "And as with 
great fervour, he was going on the way, he lifted up 
his eyes and beheld some trees hard by the road, 
whereon sat a great company of birds well-nigh 
without number, whereat S. Francis marvelled and 
said to his companions, "Ye shall wait for me here 
upon the way and I will go to preach unto my little 
sisters the birds." 

"And he went into the field and began to preach 
unto the birds that were on the ground and imme- 
diately those that were on the trees flew down to 
him and they all of them remained still and quiet 
together until S. Francis made an end of preach- 

It was a great surprise even to his followers that 
so many should seek him. Quoth Brother Masseo, 
"I say, why doth all the world come after thee and 
why is it seen that all men long to see thee and hear 
thee and obey thee } Thou art not a man comely of 
form, thou art not of much wisdom, thou art not 
noble of birth, whence comes it then that it is after 
thee the whole world doth run.?" 

And as his companions increased in number, he 


made a journey to Rome to desire the Pope to bless 
their Order. There is a story which may not be 
true that when the Pope saw his untrimmed hair 
and beard and read the rules, which seemed too 
hard for any man to keep, he made answer, "Go, 
brother, go to the pigs, for you are more like them 
than men, and read to them the rules you have 
drawn up." 

Then Francis humbly bowed his head and went 
away and coming to a field where there were pigs, 
he rolled in the mud with them. Then he returned 
to the Pope and said, "My lord, I have done as you 
commanded, grant me now, I beseech you, my 
petition." The Pope was astonished at his humility 
and, repenting of his own harshness, he granted the 

Thus was the order of the Grey Brothers or 
Friars^ founded. Soon the little Brothers of S. 
Francis were scattered over the world and many 
joined them in England. They had no possessions, 
and they travelled from place to place preaching 
to the people and tending the sick and the lepers, 
of whom there were many in sore need. 



In the time of WiUiam Rufus, Peter the Hermit 
travelled from country to country calling all Chris- 
tian men to follow him to Palestine; for the holy 
places where Christ and His disciples had lived had 

^ French Freres, Latin Fratres. 


fallen into the hands of fierce men, the Moham- 
medans. The pilgrims had been tortured and 
forbidden to enter Jerusalem, and their number 
was great, for men of all nations went sometimes 
in sorrow and carrying rich gifts to make their 
prayers at the tomb of Christ where, it was said, 
many wonders were done. Those who had sinned 
much sought forgiveness, those who were sick de- 
sired health and others came to pray for friends and 

Therefore the preacher asked of the rich that 
they should give all that they had, and of the strong 
and valiant that they should fight for the banner of 
the Cross. 

And many set out for the war — peasants and 
princes, French, Italian, English and Austrian — to 
rescue the land that some held dearer than their 
own. In that great company was Robert of Nor- 
mandy, who had sold his dominions to his brother 
that he might go. 

The way v/as long and perilous, through forests, 
over mountains, by strange towns and across the 
treacherous sea, and many died of hunger or of 
fever on the journey. Twice did the Christian 
armies march to Jerusalem, yet though they took 
the city, they could not keep it. Then Richard of 
the Lion-heart, son of Henry II, planned to join 
the Third Crusade, for he was a great soldier and 
loved war. 

The King begged money from everyone for his 
journey. He invited his barons to join him and 
bring their best men, and from those who would not 

B.B.I. 5 


come he asked large sums of money, promising to 
pray for them when he reached Jerusalem. 

He seized the treasure of the Jews, for they were 
a people who worked hard and spent little. The 
Jews were much hated, and when the news went 
abroad that the King had taken their money, the 
English thought to do him service by killing them ; 
but the King was angry, for he had only wanted 
their money. 

Then Richard sold the chief offices in his court 
to those who could pay well, caring little how they 
ruled while he was away. When he had gathered 
treasure enough, he set out with the boldest of his 
barons, and John, his brother, was left to govern 

After many adventures, he arrived at Acre, and 
there he found the French King and the Austrians 
and others surrounding the city. Then Richard 
besieged it and took it, and the great army made 
him their leader, for they admired his prowess. 
The French King was much angered and returned 
home, and the Austrian Duke was envious and led 
his troops back to their own land. But Richard 
marched towards Jerusalem. Over the burning 
desert went the soldiers in their armour, so heavy 
that if a man fell from his horse, he would be stifled 
to death unless a comrade were near to raise him ; 
and the horses found it heavy work in the shifting 
sand. At the rear of the army rode the Knights 
Hospitallers, who had made vows to succour the 
wounded and those who fell by the way, and for 
this service they were held in high esteem. 


The enemy watched in hiding to cut off the 
stragglers by the way. Mounted on swift Arab 
steeds and clothed in light garments, they moved 
rapidly, and the poisoned arrow was a deadly 
weapon. When the tired soldiers came in sight of 
Jaffa, it was the season of oranges and the time of 
vintage was at hand, so there they made a camp. 

Much refreshed they marched within twelve 
miles of Jerusalem, but the weather was bad and 
their tents were torn up and whirled away. The 
horses perished of cold and the stores were spoiled 
and their armour grew rusty and many fell ill from 
long sojourn in this land. There, too, Richard re- 
ceived a letter telling him that his brother John was 
plotting to take away his inheritance and that the 
King of France intended to make war on Normandy. 

Reluctantly he turned his back upon the Holy 
City, for he had desired above measure to take it. 
When one of the knights would have pointed it out 
to him in the camp, he snapped the switch he held 
in his hand and cast his surcoat over his head, pray- 
ing with tears, "O Lord God, suffer not mine eyes 
to behold Thy Holy City, since Thou wilt not suffer 
me to deliver it out of the hands of Thine enemies." 

Now the Mohammedans held Richard in great 
awe. When the officers returned to their master 
after a battle, he asked them mockingly whether 
they were bringing Richard in chains and they 
answered, "Know, O King, for a surety that this 
Richard of whom you inquire is not like other men. 
In all time, no such soldier has been seen or heard 
of; no warrior so stout, so valiant or so skilled; his 


onset is terrible, it is death to encounter him, his 
deeds are more than human." 

Then Richard made a truce with the vaUant 
Saladin, the ruler of the Mohammedans, and this 
was to last three years and three months and three 
days and three hours, and once again pilgrims were 
allowed to visit the tomb of Christ. Now the King 
dared not return through France for fear of the 
French monarch, therefore he pretended he was a 
rich merchant, and hiring two ships he sailed for 
Austria, hoping to make his way through that land 
in disguise. But the Duke of Austria hated him 
almost as much as did the French King. 

One evening, Richard sent his page into a city 
for food, and by mistake he carried the King's 
gloves in his belt and on them was embroidered the 
golden lion of England. And the lord of the castle 
happening to be in the market place saw these and 
gave orders to follow. Then Richard was captured 
and cast into a donjon to await the Duke's pleasure. 
The Duke demanded a ransom for the King so 
large that he thought the English could not pay it. 
But Eleanor, the King's mother, rested not till she 
had raised the money, and the English paid gladly. 

When the Crusaders returned to their own lands 
they spoke of the strange things they had seen and of 
the courage of Christian soldiers of many nations. 
Then also the people began to desire spices and 
silks from the East more than ever before, and they 
must often have longed for oranges, figs, grapes and 
dates, such as these adventurers described. 




By the river Seine, on a high rock, Richard built a 
fine castle to guard Normandy. When the King of 
France heard of its building, he said, *'If its walls 
were of iron I would take it," and Richard replied, 
"If its walls were of butter I would hold it," and 
he named it Chateau Gaillard, Saucy Castle. When 
Richard died, his brother John did not trouble to 
keep many soldiers there, and the King of France 
was glad, for he desired it greatly. 

Eleanor, the King's mother, gathered soldiers 
for her son, and though she was very old she did her 
best to save Normandy. Yet Saucy Castle fell and 
the Norman barons would not fight for John. So 
Normandy was lost and the barons had to choose 
between their French lands and their English lands. 
Many, who were fierce and turbulent, went to live 
in Normandy, and those who had learned to love 
their new countiy stayed in England. Though 
they still spoke French they served England well 
and tried to make the King rule more justly. 

Now the people of England had been proud of 
Normandy and they were angry with John because 
he had lost it. In his days, too, there was a great 
quarrel betveen the King and the Pope, and the 
priests were forbidden to hold any services in Eng- 
land, and for five years the churches and monas- 


teries were closed, the dead were buried without 
prayer in the ditches and highways, and no one 
could marry in church. 

"The images of saints were taken down and 
veiled ; the frequent tinkle of the convent bell no 
longer told the serf at the plough how the weary 
hours were passing or guided the traveller through 
the forest to a shelter for the night," The people 
grew afraid, and they hated the King, who was the 
cause of much evil. 

Yet John did not care, and he would not re- 
ceive the new Archbishop whom the Pope had sent. 
Then the Pope banished the King from the Church 
and declared him an outlaw, whose life any man 
might take, and still the King had no fear. At last, 
the Pope offered the English crown to the French 
King and John knew that the French King was a 
dangerous enemy, therefore he promised to do 
whatever the Pope wished. 

So the new Archbishop, Stephen Langton, was 
received by the King. Soon he began to talk with 
the barons of the wrongs that the King did daily 
in the land, and they searched for the old charter 
that Henry I had given his people. Then they drew 
up the Great Charter, asking the King to grant 
them justice. 

John met the barons and the Archbishop in a 
meadow near Windsor, called Runnymede. When 
he saw the charter he said, "These articles are pure 
foolishness ! Why do they not ask me for the King- 
dom at once ? I will never give them such freedom 
as would make me a slave." But looking round at 


the fierce barons there, unwilHngly he set his seal 
to it. 

Thus the King promised that no freeman should 
be imprisoned without a trial by his equals, that no 
one should be fined so heavily that he could not pay 
or that he had to give up the tools by which he 
earned his daily bread. He promised too that he 
would not take money from his people without 
asking the advice of his council and that he would 
let the merchants come and go freely in the land. 

In London, you may still see the old charter 
signed by the barons who were present, and 
bearing the King's seal, and when you are able to 
read it, you can find out what other promises the 
King made that day. 



In the days of Henry III, the barons had become 
powerful, and his son Edward I remembered the 
days of Stephen and how the great lords had de- 
stroyed "the good peace" of the realm, and he 
wisely framed the laws against them. 

Now the King had grown poor and the barons 
had grown rich. They did not care to pay their 
taxes, so they pretended to give their lands to the 
Church. These lands were then "in the dead 
hand" because the Church held them for ever and 


owed nothing to the King. Yet all the time, the 
priests took their share and the lands were still held 
by the barons, free of all dues to the King. So the 
King forbade any man to give lands to the Church 
without his permission. 

Again, many had taken lands which did not 
belong to them and seized the King's dues in 
the courts and no one had made inquiries since 
Domesday Book was written. The King sent 
round his messengers to ask by what right they 
held their lands and courts, and the barons were 
angry. One man drew out his sword and defied the 
King, saying, "My ancestors came over with 
William and won the lands with their sword, and 
with the sword I will keep them." The King made 
other laws and the barons feared him. 

Edward desired that the people in the towns 
should prosper, for he hoped to get money from 
the traders. Much complaint was made that the 
roads were in danger from lurking bands of robbers 
and the cities too were unguarded. The merchants 
suffered most, for their mule packs, carrying mer- 
chandise, had to be strongly guarded. So the King 
gave orders concerning the watch and ward and 
bade the townsmen search out the evil doers or pay 
heavy fines for every crime done in their bound- 

The gates of the towns were to be shut from sun- 
set to sunrise and the trees and undergrowth were 
to be cut down for a distance of 200 feet on either 
side of the highway, lest they gave shelter to men 
with evil intent. 


Duke of Alen9on condemned for treason 
by Charles VII, King of France, 1458 

The figure of the artist is to be seen inside the barrier, 
turning from the scene as though he were not interested 


This picture probably dates from the i6th century 


Then the King planned to take not only from 
the richest of the nobles and the priests but also 
from the treasure chests of the citizens. When he 
was about to make war and desired money, he sent 
out a letter asking not only the bishops and barons 
to meet him but two knights from every shire and 
two citizens from every city and two burgesses 
from every borough. 

The new comers were at first flattered to sit with 
the great barons, but soon they found it very 
troublesome, for the King asked for much money, 
the journey to the meeting place was often long and 
dangerous and the King would take no excuses for 
absence. Then the members began to find fault 
with the King and to ask how he spent the money, 
and they made even the strong man Edward sign 
again the Great Charter. 

There is an old picture of one of these parlia- 
ments and in it the artist has drawn, not only the 
two Archbishops seated on either side of the King 
but also the King of Scotland and the Prince of 
Wales, but this no doubt he did to show the power 
of Edward I over these princes, for they never 
really were in Parliament. The judges sat on the 
four woolsacks which faced one another. On the 
right of the King sat the Archbishops, Bishops and 
Abbots ; on the left, the great lords ; and opposite 
him the Commons stood. 




In the old days, the Britons had fled before the 
Northmen, who came conquering from the east- 
ward ; but those who dweh in the mountain fast- 
nesses of the west had been secure from Saxon 
and Norman foes. Their country was called Wales 
or the land of the foreigner, by all who heard of 
it. Between England and Wales lay the borderland 
or Marches as the Normans named it, and there the 
troublesome Norman barons had been given lands 
by the King to keep them far from the court and 
busy with their wild neighbours. 

When Edward ruled in England, Llewelyn, 
"towering above the rest of men, with his long red 
lance, and red helmet of battle, crested with a fierce 
wolf," was Prince of Snowdon. The bards sang of 
his fame and prophesied that he should rule from 
sea to sea. "Men spoke of the return of King 
Arthur, they whispered that the Northmen should 
be driven back to their fatherland" and the nation 
waited in expectation. 

Llewelyn desired to marry the daughter of one 
of the Lords of the Marches and to find friends 
among those barons. Edward, fearing this, cap- 
tured the bride on her way to Wales and summoned 
the prince to London to do homage for his lands; 
but he would not come. 

"We dare not submit to Edward," said the 


Welsh, "nor will we suffer our prince to do so, nor 
do homage to strangers whose tongue, ways and 
laws we know nought of." 

So the King raised an army and marched into 
their country by way of the old Roman road along 
the north coast. His army marched untroubled 
with heavy stores and baggage, for Edward was a 
great soldier and had planned that his fleet should 
attend him, sailing in sight of the coast, till they 
reached the island of Anglesey, the granary of the 

As he marched, he gave orders to build strong 
castles. Builders and architects were as busy as 
soldiers and there was great rivalry amongst them. 
Some boasted of the number of towers, some of 
their size, some of the speed at which they were 
able to build. The fine castle of Conway was made 
from the stones of a stronghold close by. Car- 
narvon and Beaumaris were built to guard the 
island of Anglesey, and Caerphilly looked towards 
the lands of the South Welsh. 

Llewelyn, hidden in the wilds of Snowdon, 
hoped ever that the King would risk a march into 
these unknown paths, but he waited in vain. Then 
Llewelyn fought on the coast road, but with dis- 
may he saw himself cut off on all sides but one, 
and, looking towards the south, he knew it to be his 
only way of escape, and that was the land of his 
enemies. There, it is said, he died, by the treachery 
of the South Welsh, as he stood upon the bank of a 
river, but the South Welsh say that he was slain in 
battle by his enemies, the English. 


Then Edward summoned the Welsh to meet him 
at Carnarvon Castle, where he promised they 
should do homage to a new Welsh Prince, whom 
he would choose. When the day came, he showed 
to them his eldest son, who had just been born at 
Carnarvon, and they paid homage. 

Among the laws which he made, he bade the 
Welsh speak English, but to this day they can 
speak in their own tongue. "My people," said the 
Welsh chieftain, "may be weakened by your might 
and even in great part destroyed, but unless the 
wrath of God be on the side of its foe it will not 
perish utterly, nor deem I that other race or other 
tongue will answer for this corner of the world 
before the Judge of all at the last day save this 
people and the tongue of Wales." 



The old King of Scotland, dying, left his kingdom 
to his little granddaughter, the Maid of Norway, 
who was only seven years old. Edward planned to 
marry her to his son the Prince of Wales and so 
make England and Scotland one kingdom. He 
sent a ship to bring her from Norway in the winter 
and he stored it with good things, with toys and 
sweetmeats for the voyage. 

The weather was stormy and Margaret died on 
the voyage. There was much woe in Scotland and 



trouble in the English King's mind. Many Scot- 
tish nobles claimed the crown and they asked 
Edward to choose amongst them. It was a difficult 
matter but Edward was trusted, for all men praised 
him as the Lion of Justice. 

He chose Balliol to rule over them, but this man 
proved himself of no wisdom and little counsel and 
his rivals Bruce and the Red Comyn were more 
powerful than he. 

Balliol thought to win favour of the Scots by 
defying the English King. Edward then harried 
the land and carried off the Stone of Destiny from 
Scone. This stone was said to be Jacob's Pillow 
and had *been brought to Ireland long ago and 
thence into Scotland. On it, all the Kings of Scot- 
land had sat to be crowned and it was put in West- 
minster Abbey, where it still lies underneath the 
coronation chair. English barons were sent to rule 
Scotland but they were not so wise as Edward and 
there was bitterness among the people. 

In their distress, they found a leader in William 
Wallace, who drilled them to fight on foot against 
the foreigner, for they were too poor to buy horses 
and ride into battle in costly armour. On the field, 
they stood close together, shoulder to shoulder, 
awaiting the onslaught of the knights, and then they 
fought with spear and battle-axe. 

The English soldiers were taken by surprise, for 
they had never heard of such a strange army nor 
seen such steady ranks of men. Edward, however, 
was a thoughtful general, and he soon learned to 
use his Welsh archers to trouble the Scots and break 


their lines. Yet when they were driven from the 
field, he found he could not rule in Scotland as he 
had done in Wales, for it was a barren land and the 
Scots were a hardy people. 

Now there was a great feud between Bruce and 
the Red Comyn. One day when the two met, they 
entered a church to talk and Bruce killed his foe on 
the steps of the high altar and, rushing out, he cried 
to his men, "I doubt I have slain the Red Comyn." 
"Ye doubt? I make certain," cried one of his 
followers as he pushed his way into the church. 

The people of Scotland were angry for this sin 
in their hero, but they could not do without him, 
for Wallace had been caught and hanged as a 
traitor. So they crowned the Bruce in the old city 
of Scone, and the golden circlet was placed upon 
his head by the Countess of Buchan, whose hus- 
band was with the invader. 

Many stories are told of these times and of the 
high courage of the Scots, for there were great 
perils in this strife and there was hunger and cold 
and faithlessness. 

Hearing of the deeds of this man, who had 
once paid vows to him, Edward, now an old man, 
led his armies northward again. There on the 
Borderland he died, leaving this charge to his son, 
that he should rest neither day nor night till he was 
prince of Scotland also. 

Yet the young King turned his face towards 
London to make ready for his coronation and wed- 
ding. Then the Bruce became indeed King of 
Scotland, and seven years afterwards, when it was 


too late, the English King marched with his men 
to the field of Bannockburn. There he was defeated 
and from the shame of that day he could never 

The Scots harried the north of England for 
many a year. They rode on swift ponies, carrying 
only a tin platter and a bag of oatmeal for food, 
drinking from the streams and eating flesh when 
they could catch wild deer or mountain sheep or 
the fat oxen in the pastures. It was a hard matter 
to find this army, for they rode hither and thither 
silently, surely and swiftly. Thus was Scotland 
separated from England for many a generation. 



In the days of "the courteous knight" and King, 
Edward III, a great war was waged with France, 
for the English merchants complained bitterly that 
the French had troubled them as they passed bear- 
ing wool to the great markets. So bold had the 
French become that they had harried the Isle of 
Wight and burned many villages along the southern 

As the King passed over seas to make war, he 
came in sight of the harbour of Sluys, "and when 
he saw so great a number of ships that their masts 
seemed to be like a great wood, he demanded of the 
master of his ship what people he thought they were . ' ' 


He answered and said, "Sir, I think they be men 
laid here by the French King, and they have done 
great displeasure in England, burnt your town of 
South Hampton and taken your great ship, Chris- 
topher." "Ah," quoth the King, "I have long de- 
sired to fight with the Frenchmen, and now shall I 
fight with some of them by the grace of God and 
S. George." 

The battle began with the sound of trumpets and 
drums and other kinds of music and "it endured 
from the morning till noon, for their enemies were 
four to one and all good men of the sea." But the 
English fought so valiantly that they obtained the 
victory and Edward received the title of Lord of 
the Seas. 

Some years later, Edward led his men into 
France to take Paris, but he found that a great army 
was drawn up to defend the city and that the 
bridges over the rivers had been destroyed. Many 
of his soldiers fell sick, so he hastened towards 
Calais. Then the French King gave chase. 

On the hill of Crecy, Edward HI drew up his 
men to await the enemy. While they were waiting, 
a great thunderstorm burst over the land, and the 
King gave orders that the archers should cover 
their bows with their cloaks lest the heavy rain 
should spoil them. But the French King, in his 
haste, urged his men forward, and, wet and weary, 
they came in sight of their foe. 

When the French King saw the hosts on the hill, 
" he hated them" and bade the Italian crossbowmen, 
whom he had hired, begin the attack. They said 


their strings were slack and they could not fight 
that day, but he called them cowards and bade 
them fall on. 

As they advanced into battle, the sun shone in 
their faces, and when they drew near "the Italians 
made a great leap and cry to abash the English but 
they stood still and stirred not for all that. And a 
second time, they made another leap and a dread- 
ful cry and stepped forward a little but the English- 
men removed not one foot. Again they leapt and 
cried and went forward till they came within shot, 
then the English archers stepped forward one pace 
and let fly their arrows so hotly and so thick that it 
seemed snow. When the Italians felt the arrows 
piercing through their heads, arms and breasts, 
many of them cast down their cross-bows and cut 
their strings and ran back discomfited." 

When the French King saw them fleeing, he 
said, "Slay those rascals, for they will hinder us and 
block up our path for nothing." Then the men-at- 
arms dashed in among them and killed a great 
number and still "the English kept shooting where- 
ever they saw the thickest press and the sharp 
arrows ran into the men-at-arms and into their 
horses and many fell among the Italians and when 
they were down they could not get up again, for the 
press was so thick that one overthrew the other." 

It was in this battle that gunpowder was first 
used, but the cannon was only fired once an hour, 
and then it frightened those who stood by more 
than the enemy. 

The Prince of Wales, who was but sixteen years 


old, was hard-pressed by the horsemen of France, 
and the Knights under his banner sent a messenger 
to his father, the King, who was watching the 
battle from a windmill on the hill. 

"Is my son dead or hurt or felled to the ground ?" 
asked Edward. 

"No sir, but hardly pressed." 

"Then go back to them that sent you and tell 
them to send to me no more whatever betide as 
long as my son is alive, and bid them let him win 
his spurs, for, please God, I wish this day and the 
honour thereof to be his and those that are with 
him." And they that heard it were greatly en- 

The old King of Bohemia, fighting for the 
French, was led into battle by four of his comrades, 
for he was dim of sight. There he fell fighting, and 
his crest of three black feathers, with the motto, 
"Ich Dien," "I serve," was taken by the Prince and 
has been worn by his successors ever since. 

The French King was wounded and his soldiers 
scattered in dismay. Then the English made great 
fires and lighted up torches and candles, for it was 
very dark. And the King came down to the field 
and said to his son : 

"Fair son, God give you good perseverance, ye 
are my good son, thus ye have acquitted you nobly ; 
ye are worthy to keep a realm." The prince in- 
clined himself to the earth, honouring his father. 



THE WAR WITH FRANCE {continued) 

Calais was the great port of Northern France. It 
was a strong town and the King besieged it. For 
eleven months it held out against him. The King 
was sore displeased that he should tarry so long 
before its gates, and when the citizens desired to 
make peace he demanded that six burgesses, bare 
headed, bare footed, in their shirts, with halters 
about their necks and with the keys of the castle 
and town in their hands, should give themselves as 
a ransom for the inhabitants. 

The bell in the market place was sounded and 
the people assembled. When they heard this "they 
began to weep and make much sorrow." At last 
the richest burgess of all the town, called Eustace 
of Saint Pierre, rose up and said openly, "Sirs, 
great and small, great mischief it should be to 
suffer such people as be in this town to die by 
famine or otherwise, wherefore to save them, I will 
be the first to put my life in jeopardy." 

Then another honest burgess rose and said: "1 
will keep company with my gossip Eustace," and 
so the six offered themselves and went and ap- 
parelled them as the King desired. 

When they were brought into the camp, they 
begged for m.ercy, "then all the earls and barons 
and others that were there wept for pity. The 
King looked felly (cruelly) on them, for greatly he 

6 — 2 


hated the people of Calais for the great damages 
and displeasures they had done him on the sea 

Then he commanded their heads to be stricken 
off. Every man requested the King for mercy but 
he would hear no one on their behalf. 

"They of Calais have caused many of my men 
to be slain, wherefore shall they die like-wise." 

Then the Queen kneeled down and sore weeping 
said, "Ah, gentle sir, since I passed the sea in great 
peril, I have desired nothing of you, therefore now 
I humbly require you in honour of the Son of the 
Virgin Mary, and for the love of me, that ye will 
take mercy on these six burgesses." 

The King beheld the Queen and stood still in a 
study a space and then said : " Ah dame, I would ye 
had been now in some other place, ye make such 
request to me that I cannot deny you. Wherefore 
I give them to you and do your pleasure with them. 

"Then the Queen caused them to be brought into 
her chamber and made their halters to be taken 
from their necks and caused them to be new clothed 
and gave them dinner at their leisure and then gave 
them each some gold and made them to be brought 
out of the host in safeguard and set at their 

This is the story told by Froissart, who attended 
on the Queen, and thus did Calais fall into the hands 
of the English, and over its portals the conquerors 
inscribed the proud boast. 

Then shall the Frenchmen Calais win 
When iron and lead like cork shall swim. 



In those days, the great men of the land were rich 
and they dressed gaily in silk and fur, gorgeous 
were their jewels, and their scabbards were decked 
with beauteous workmanship. From their bridles 
jangled the merry bells, as they followed their 
hounds to the hunt. 

The court too was magnificent. The King gave 
bounteous feasts and there were many dishes set 
before the guests. 

"There came in at the first course, before the 
King's self, 

Boars' heads on broad dishes of burnished silver, 

Flesh of fat harts with noble furmenty, 

And peacocks and plovers on platters of gold, 

Herons and swans in chargers of silver, 

And tarts of Turkey full pleasant to taste. 

Next hams of wild-boar with brawn beglazed, 

Barnacle-geese and bitterns in embossed dishes, 

Venison in pasties, so comely to view, 

Jellies that glittered and gladdened the eye. 

Then cranes and curlews craftily roasted. 

Conies in clear sauce coloured so bright, 

Pheasants in their feathers on the flashing silver. 

With gay galantines and dainties galore. 

There were claret and Crete wine in clear silver fountains 

Rhenish wine and Rochelle and wine from Mount Rose 

All in flagons of fine gold ; and on the fair cupboard 

Stood store of gilt goblets glorious of hue, 

Sixty of one set, with jewels on their sides. 


When the banquet was over the guests washed 
their hands in rosewater and partook of wine and 
spices in another chamber. 

But the poor were much oppressed. Their fare 
was very simple, a loaf of beans and bran, an oaten 
cake with cheese or curds and cream, and some- 
times perhaps parsley and leeks or cherries and 
apples in their season. 

Of the poor ploughman, the poet sang, 

His coat of the cloth that is named carry-marry, 

His hood full of holes, with the hair sticking through 

them ; 
His clumsy knobbed shoes cobbled over so thickly. 
Though his toes started out as he trod on the ground, 
His hose hanging over each side of his hoggers. 
All plashed in the puddles as he followed the plough; 
Two miserable mittens made out of old rags, 
The fingers worn out and the filth clotted on them. 
He, wading in mud, almost up to his ankles. 
And before him four oxen, so weary and feeble. 
One could reckon their ribs, so rueful were they. 
His wife walked beside him, with a long ox goad, 
In a clouted coat cut short to the knee. 
Wrapped in a winnowing sheet to keep out the weather. 
Her bare feet on the bleak ice bled as she went. 
At one end of the acre, in a crumb-bowl so small, 
A little babe lay, lapped up in rags. 
And twins two years old tumbled beside it, 
All singing one song that was sorrowful hearing. 
For they all cried one cry, a sad note of care. 

A year after the siege of Calais, a great sorrow 
befell all men, for a little ship coming out of the 
east brought a terrible plague, called the Black 


Death. And the wind blew the plague from the 
south to the north, and as it passed, the towns were 
left desolate, for the rich escaped into the woods 
and many of the poor died. In Bristol, "the living 
were scarce able to bury the dead and the grass 
grew several inches high in Broad Street and Hieh 

When the wind reached the border of Scotland, 
it changed and blew from the north-west and down 
the eastern coast of England it sped, slaying thou- 
sands by the way. When it was gone, the lords 
could find but few to gather in the harvest and those 
that were left demanded high wages. Many land- 
owners turned their fields into pastureland. For 
one shepherd and his dog could look after many 
sheep and there were merchants in Calais ready to 
buy English wool. 

In vain did the lords beg the King to forbid the 
labourer to ask for hire. If a man fled from his 
lord's land, whereon he was born, he should be 
branded with the letter F for fugitive, but still the 
peasants got away and offered themselves for hire 
in other places and those for whom they laboured 
were glad to have them. 

The peasants had many grievances. The wars 
with France had cost much money and the taxes 
were heavy. There were few who gave thought to 
the labourer and his troubles, for the monks had 
become idle and rich, and the friars had forgotten 
their vows and the priests their duties. 

Among the people, there was a band of sturdy 
men, who had learned to read and who took ideas 


of freedom from the Bible. They preached that the 
peasants should take up arms against the King 
and his lords, for they said, "they are clothed in 
velvet and warm in their furs and their ermine, 
while we are covered with rags. They have wine 
and spices and fine bread and we oat cake and straw 
and water to drink. They have leisure and fine 
houses, we have pain and labour, the wind and the 
rain in the fields. Yet it is of us and our toil that 
these men hold their state," and the people said 

When Adam delved and Eve span 
Who was then the gendeman } 

So the peasants planned to march to London to 
seek the new King, the boy Richard II, who was 
but fifteen years old, and "armed with clubs, rusty 
swords and axes, with old bows, reddened by the 
smoke of the chimney corner and old arrows with 
only one feather," they came to the city, only to 
find that the gates were shut. 

Then they threatened to burn and slay, and the 
citizens in their fear said, "Why do we not let these 
good people enter into the city? They are our 
fellows and what they do is for us." So the gates of 
the city were opened and the peasants sat down in 
the houses to eat and drink and afterwards they 
burned the dwellings of foreigners and great lords 
and slew many. 

The King was left alone in the Tower, for the 
courtiers had fled, and desiring to speak with the 
rebels, he rode out to an open space beyond the 
city where they were gathered, and there he entered 




in among them and said to them sweetly, "Ah, ye 
good people, I am your King. What lack ye? What 
will ye say?" 

Such as understood him answered, "We will 
that ye make us free for ever, ourselves, our heirs 
and our lands." 

"Sirs," said the King, "I am well agreed there- 
to ; withdraw you home into your houses and into 
such villages as ye came from and leave behind you 
of every village two or three and I shall cause 
writings to be made and seal them with my seal, 
the which they shall have with them, containing 
everything that ye demand." They said, "It is 
well said, we desire no better," and so they returned 
to their own homes. 

The King could not keep his promise to the 
peasants, for the lords were stronger than he, yet 
not long after this time we find the peasants more 
free and labouring for hire. 

THE WAR w^iTH FRANCE {continued) 

When Henry V was crowned King, he desired 
much to revive the glories of Crecy and so he sum- 
moned his nobles to war. Then he built a great 
fleet to carry them to France, cutting down the oak 
trees in the Forest of Epping for that purpose. 
He was much loved by all his soldiers, "for in 


wrestling, leaping and running, no man could com- 
pare with him. In casting of great iron bars and 
heavy stones, he excelled all men, never shrinking 
at cold, nor slothful for heat; and when he most 
laboured, his head commonly uncovered ; no more 
weariness of light armour than a light coat, very 
valiantly abiding at need both hunger and thirst, 
so manful of mind as never to seem to quinch at a 
wound or to smart at the pain." 

When he came into the realm of France, he laid 
siege to the strong city of Harfieur. It was summer 
time and many of the soldiers fell sick. Though 
the town was captured, Henry could but turn his 
back on Paris and march homeward on the old road 
to Calais, as his great- grandfather Edward III had 
done in like case. 

"The English were brought into some distress 
in this journey, by reason of their victuals in man- 
ner spent and no hope to get more : for the enemies 
had destroyed all the corn before the}'^ came. Rest 
could they none take, for their enemies with alarms 
did ever so infest them ; daily it rained and nightly 
it freezed ; of fuel there was great scarcity ; money 
enough, but wares for their relief to bestow it on 
had they none. Yet, in this great necessity, the poor 
people of the country were not spoiled nor any- 
thing taken of them without payment, nor any 
offence done by Englishmen." 

In the French camp, there was much strife and 
discontent, yet when the news of the English King's 
distress reached them, and they sent after him their 
herald to demand ransom, the King answered with 


scorn. So Mountjoy, King~at-arms, was sent to the 
King of England to defy him as the enemy of 
France and to tell him that he should shortly have 
battle. King Henry advisedly answered, "Mine 
intent is to do as it pleaseth God. I will not seek 
your master at this time, but if he or his seek me 
I will meet them, God willing." When he had thus 
answered the herald, he gave him a princely reward 
and licence to depart. 

Then the French, coming to the field of Agin- 
court, and seeing how small an army stood before 
them, sent the herald once again to seek a ransom. 
Henry answered that he would never pay such ran- 
som. "When the messenger was come back to the 
French host, the men of war put on their helmets 
and caused their trumpets to blow to the battle," 

As the English soldiers looked at the great host 
before them, there were some who sighed for the 
thousands lying idle in England. Henry, hearing 
them, answered, "I would not have a single man 
more. If God give us the victory it will be plain 
that we owe it to His grace. If not, the fewer we 
are, the less the loss for England." "What time is 
it now.''" he asked. "The bells are ringing prime 
[six o'clock], my lord, "answered the Bishop. "Now 
it is good time," said the King. "England prayeth 
for us, let us be of good cheer. Banners advance!" 

Then these Frenchmen came pricking down, as 
they would have over-ridden all our company. 
But God and our archers made them soon to 
stumble, for our archers shot never arrow amiss 
that did not pierce and bring to ground horse and 


man. And our King fought like a man, with his 
own hands. So were the French put to rout, 
though they indeed had been strong in their pride. 

Then the King passed into England and "in this 
passage the seas were so rough and troublous" that 
two ships were driven ashore, and the French 
prisoners said they would rather fight in another 
battle than cross the seas again. As they came in 
sight of the shore, the townsmen of Dover came out 
to meet them, wading waist-deep in the water, so 
great was their joy at the news. Bonfires were lit 
and bells were rung and money was freely given to 
the soldier King. 

"The mayor of London and aldermen, apparel- 
led in orient grained scarlet, and four hundred 
commoners, clad in beautiful mulberry cloth, well- 
mounted and trimly horsed, with rich collars and 
great chains met the King on Blackheath, rejoicing 
at his return, and the clergy of London, with rich 
crosses, sumptuous copes and massy censors, re- 
ceived him at S. Thomas of Waterways [on the Old 
Kent Road] with solemn procession." 

It was not long before he set out again to win 
back Normandy, lost by John long ago. He laid 
siege to its chief city, where there was much suff"er- 
ing, of which the King had pity. 

Of the people to tell the truth 

It was a sight of mickle ruth ; 

Much of the folk that was therein 

They were but bones and the bare skin 

With hollow eyes and face a-peak, 

They scarce had strength to breathe or speak. 


When the city surrendered, the King, "clothed 
in black damask, mounted on a black horse, with a 
squire behind him, bearing a fox-brush on a spear, 
for a banner, rode to the minster to give thanks for 
his victory." 

Then Henry marched on towards Paris, for "he 
had such knowledge in ordering and guiding an 
army with such a gift to encourage his people that 
the Frenchmen had constant opinion he would 
never be vanquished in battle." The Dauphin of 
France was idle and the old French King ill, so it 
befell that Henry married the French Princess and 
ruled Northern France. 

To the sorrow of all men he died soon after, and 
his son when he grew up had many troubles ; for in 
those days, a soldier was held more in honour than 
a poet and a dreamer. 

Some years after Henry's death, Joan of Arc 
appeared to rescue her land from the enemy, for 
there was no hope either in the Dauphin who 
should have been its King or among the French 
lords who had lost their honour. 

Joan described how it happened to her in these 
words, "At the age of thirteen, I had a voice from 
God to guide me, and the first time I was very 
frightened ; this voice came at the hour of noon in 
summer time, in my father's garden; it was on a 
fast day, I heard the voice on the right side where 
the church is. I saw at the time a great light." 

Then the Archangel Michael addressed her de- 
siring that she should "have pity on the fair realm 
of France." She answered him, "Messire, I am 


but a poor maiden ; I know not how to ride to the 
wars or to lead men-at-arms." But the voices were 
ever in her ear. 

When her friends desired her not to go, she 
answered them, "I had far rather rest and spin by 
my mother's side ; for this is no work of my choos- 
ing, but I must go and do it, for my Lord wills it." 
"And who is your Lord?" they asked. "He is 
God," she said. 

When she had come with much danger and trouble 
to the place where the Dauphin lay, she desired to 
see him, but those that stood round mocked her. 

Coming into the presence, she said, "Gentle 
Dauphin, my name is Jeanne the Maid. The 
Heavenly King sends me to tell you that you shall 
be anointed and crowned in the town of Reims 
and you shall be lieutenant of the Heavenly King, 
who is the King of France." 

After many weary days, the Dauphin consider- 
ed her message and he gave to her some of his 
armed men that she might prove that God was on 
her side. He bade her go to get back the good city 
of Orleans, which was in dire need by reason of the 
great armies of the English encamped round about it. 

Then was the might of the maid proved, for no 
sooner had her standard touched the walls of the 
city than the town was saved. Soldiers, who had 
scoffed or stood aside, now joined her. Thus was 
she able to march through the land in triumph to 
the city of Reims, where it was the custom to 
crown the Kings of France, and in the host there 
marched the Dauphin. 


In that city, she crowned the King, and the Eng- 
lish fell back at the terror of her name. Then 
kneeling before the King, she said, "O gentle 
King, the pleasure of God is done, would it were 
His pleasure that I might go and keep sheep once 
more with my sisters and my brothers. They 
would be rejoiced to see me again." 

The King dared not let her go, yet she had many 
enemies, for the lords of France did not care to 
think that she had led their armies. To their bitter 
shame, they made little effort to save her from the 
English and she was burnt as a witch. From that 
day, the English gradually lost all France save Calais. 

So the victories of Henry V were of no avail and 
there was much poverty in England and murmur- 
ing against the rulers. 



The barons came back from France. They were 
practised in the art of war and they turned their 
homes into strong forts and their servants into 
soldiers. Of these, they found many who were 
well versed in arms and ready to fight. They gave 
them food and lodging for their services and liveries 
to distinguish them from the follov/ers of their 
neighbours and they no longer fought for the King 
but each for his own gain. 

The squires in the manors and the merchants in 


the towns stood in awe of these unruly subjects of 
the realm, but against them there was no remedy, 
and every man was forced to choose out a lord to 
protect him. 

Of the long wars which these men waged, fight- 
ing for the rival princes of York and Lancaster, 
for the white and the red rose, and of the havoc that 
they wrought in the land, there are many stories. 

Though the barons made war en one another, 
the citizens held their markets and fairs and worked 
with skill in their trades. Foreigners desired to 
buy, and they were anxious for peace with a 
country that could give them the finest wool. 
More ships were built to cross the narrow seas, and 
they were free to come and go, since England 
watched them from her two eyes, Calais and Dover. 

The merchants began to use more of their own 
good wool and many skilled craftsmen were needed 
for cloth making. First the wool was sorted and 
the coarse taken from the fine, then it was dyed, 
orange, red, green, russet made from madder, or 
blue from woad, a flower, which grew abundantly 
in France. The carder came next and the spinster 
spun it into long threads on her distaff. 

The weaver next doth warp and weave the chain, 
Whilst Puss, his cat, stands mewing for a skein. 

The cloth was cleaned and thickened by the 
walkers, who trampled it in a trough of water and 
stretched it upon tenters to dry. Then came the 
rower who beat it with teazles to find out all the 
loose fibres and the shearman stood by with 





shears to cut off the knots and ends when they 
appeared. Before it was sold, the drawer must 
mend any holes or bad places in it: 

The drawer last that many faults doth hide, 
(Whom merchant nor the weaver can abide) 
Yet is he one in most clothes, stops more holes 
Than there be stairs to the top of S. Paul's. 

They worked as a rule from five in the morning 
till seven at night in summer and from dawn till 
dusk in winter, with half an hour for breakfast, 
and an hour and a half for dinner and a sleep on 
hot days. There was a holiday for every festival 
of the Church. 

Of Jack of Newbury's workshop we read. 

Within one room being large and long 

There stood two hundred looms full strong; 

Two hundred men, the truth is so, 

Wrought in these looms all in a row. 

By every one a pretty boy 

Sate making quils with mickle joy, 

And in another place hard by 

An hundred women merrily 

Were carding hard, with joyful cheer, 

Who singing sate with voices clear. 

And in a chamber close beside 

Two hundred maidens did abide, 

In petticoats of stammel red, 

And milk-white kerchers on their head. 

Those who worked in one trade bound them- 
selves together into a gild, and often lived in one 
quarter of the city to protect one another; those 
who desired to become members must serve seven 


years' apprenticeship. To guard their honour, the 
masters made a strict rule that no work should be 
sent to market until it had been inspected and 
found well done. 

If a man fell ill, he received help from the gild. 
When the feast days came round and all made 
holiday, the elders of the gild provided a banquet 
and pastimes, and sometimes they welcomed the 
players who acted stories from the Bible and old 
legends. There was dancing and feasting and much 

So the citizens became more important than 
great barons and soldiers, for they brought trade to 
the country and riches to the King's Exchequer. 

A new world, too, was opening to the people, the 
world of books. With care the monks had copied 
down the old stories and histories, but there were 
few who could procure them to read. 

The printing press was brought to England by 
Caxton. He was an English merchant, trading in the 
city of Bruges. It was his custom to spend his spare 
time in reading Latin and French stories. He trans- 
lated the story of Troy into English, and the Duchess 
of Burgundy and her courtiers liked it so much that 
they asked him to write several copies. He says that 
his pen was so much worn, his hand so weary and his 
eyes so dim that he thought it worth while to learn 
the art of printing from those who could teach him. 

Then he brought a press to London, and out of 
his shop he hung a sign " Books bought here good 
cheap." Only the rich could buy, for books were 
very dear. He printed the stories of King Arthur 


and also the Golden Legend, or Lives of the Saints, 
Reynard the Fox and many another tale. That 
the poorer folk might also read, he printed a few 
sheets of poems and fables. Among them was a 
book of good teachings for children. In this he 
bade them, 

Arise early 

Serve God devoutly 

The world busily 

Go thy way sadly [seriously] 

Answer demurely 

Go to thy meat appetently 

And arise temperately. 

And to thy soup [suppers] soberly 
And to thy bed merrily 

And be there jocundly 

And sleep soundly. 

It was at this time that scholars were beginning 
to read the old writings of the Greeks, and there 
were many other books, too, that they desired to 
have printed. 

Then also men were moved to seek what lay 
beyond the ocean in the far west. They were in 
search of a new way to India, for India seemed to 
them the treasure house of the world. Out of the 
east came gold and silver and spices and silk, but 
the way was by mountain and desert and many a 
dangerous place. Few had ventured far across the 
uncharted seas that stretched away towards the 
setting sun, for their ships were small and much at 
the mercy of the winds. It was necessary, too, to 
put into shore to get fresh stores of water when 


rain failed. A sailor wrote of their sufferings from 
thirst on one of these voyages, '* The hail-stones we 
gathered up and ate more pleasantly than if they 
had been the sweetest comfits in the world. The 
rain-drops were so carefully saved, that, as near as 
we could manage it, not one was lost in all our ship. 
Some hung up sheets, tied with cords by the four 
corners and a weight in the middle, that the water 
might run down thither, and so be received into 
some vessel set or hung underneath .... Some 
lapped with their tongues the boards under their 
feet, the sides, rails and masts of the ship. He who 
obtained a can of water by these means was spoken 
of, sued to, and envied as a rich man." 

It was with a good compass and stout heart that 
Columbus and his men set sail to find India, and to 
their great joy they saw, after many months, "a 
little stick loaded with dog roses" floating in the 
sea, a sign that they were near land. 

The natives, pointing to the setting sun, told 
them to seek gold in the great lands that lay beyond. 
Columbus thought he had found India, but it was 
America. To these lands adventurers came to seek 
for treasure and soon to find a new home. 


1. Find out from the pictures in the Saxon Calendar: 

(a) the occupations of the Saxons, 

(b) the instruments they used in farming, 

(c) the kind of dress they wore. 

(See Traill and Mann, Social England.) 

2. Plan and buUd a Saxon village (in a sand tray or with 
clay, etc.). 

3. Write down what you think the miller and the goose boy 
would say in the dialogue. 

4. Describe a Saxon Hall. (Read descriptions in Beowulf 
and Ivanhoe.) 

5. Look at some old manuscripts, if you can. and make some 
illuminated letters. 

6. Build a monastery in cardboard, paper or clay. 

7. Cut out in paper some figures of Saxons and make a 
procession on their way to Church to keep a festival. 

8. Write the story of Alfred's messenger arriving at the 
monastery to borrow the chronicle for the King's use. 

9. Make a piece of tapestry showing a scene from the history 
of the Normans. 

10. What can you discover about the Normans from the 
pictures of the Bayeux Tapestry? 

11. Find out about Hereward the Wake. 

12. Build a castle and defend it. 

13. Find out some more stories of S. Francis of Assisi. 

14. Find out as many Norman French words in English as 
you can. 

15. Read the tales of Robin Hood. 

16. Cut out of paper some figures of soldiers and make a 
picture by pasting them on a large sheet, showing them landing 
in England after the victory at Crecy. 

17. Find out about a tournament and make the lists. (See 
Scott's Ivanhoe.) 

18. If there are any old buildings where you live, find out 
when they were built and who used them. 

19. Make a subject-index to the book and arrange it in 
alphabetical order. 

20. Make a date chart and illustrate it with pictures. 


Social England (illustrated). Vols. I. and u. Ed. Traill and 

Mann (Cassell). 
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. {Everyman'i Library. Dent.) 
The Chronicles of Froissart. (Globe Edition. Macmillan.) 
Grandes Chroniques de France. Foucquet. Bibliotheque 

Nationale, Berthaud Freres. 5 fr. 
Alfred the Great. B. A. Lees. {Heroes of the Nations. Putnam.) 
St Anselm. R. W. Church. (Macmillan.) 
English Monasteries. A. H. Thompson. {Cambridge Manuals) 
English Monastic Life. F. A. Gasquet. {Antiquary's Books. 

The Chronicle of Jocelind of Br akelond. {King's Classics. Chatto 

and Windus.) 
Chivalry. F. W. Cornish. (Fisher Unwin.) 
The Making of Ireland and its Undoing, 1200-1600. Mrs J. R. 

Green. (Macmillan. 
Mediaeval Art. W. R. Lethaby. (Duckworth.) 
Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages. J. J. Jusserand. (Fisher 

Mediaeval England. M. Bateson. {The Story of the Nations. 

Fisher Unwin.) 
Social Life in England from the Conquest to the Reformation. 

G. G. Coulton. (Cambridge University Press.) 
Bibliography of Mediaeval History, 400-1500. Leaflet 44. 

Historical Association. 
*A Picture Book of British History. Vol. I, to 1485. 190 illus- 
trations. Ed. S. C. Roberts. (Cambridge University Press.) 
*Guide to Bayeux Tapestry. Victoria and Albert Museum. 

Department of Textiles. 6d. 
*Oxford Supplementary Histories. (Source books. Henry 

Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton.) 

* Old Stories from British History . York Powell . (Longmans .) 
*Heroes of Asgard. Keary. {Everyman's Library) 

* Beowulf. C. Thomson. (Marshall.) 

*The little flowers of S. Francis. {Everyman's Library.) 
*The Knights of the Round Table. Malory. (Blackie.) 

* Stories of Robin Hood. {Told to the Children Series. Jack.) 
*A History of Everyday Things in England. Vol. i. M. and 

C. H. B. Quennell. (Batsford.) 

* Suitable for Children. 


B.C. 55 The Romans first landed in Britain. 

A.D, 410 Saxons began to settle in Britain. 

410 Romans left Britain. 

597 S. Augustine landed. 

787 Danes invaded England. 

871-901 Alfred reigned. 

10 1 7-1 03 5 Cnut reigned. 

1066 Battle of Hastings. 

1070 Lanfranc became Archbishop of Canterbury. 

1086 Domesday Book. 

1093 Anselm became Archbishop of Canterbury. 

1096 The First Crusade. 

1 107 The Exchequer was founded. 

1162 Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury. 

1 169 Strongbow landed in Ireland. 

1 147 The Second Crusade. 

1 189 The Third Crusade. 

1204 The Loss of Normandy. 

121 5 The Great Charter. 

1283 Conquest of Wales. 

1295 The Model Parhament. 

1295 War with Scotland began. 

1346 Battle of Crecy. 

1346 The Siege of Calais. 

1347 The Black Death. 

1 38 1 The Peasants' Revolt. 

141 5 The Battle of Agincourt. 

1429 Joan of Arc took Orleans. 

1476 Caxton set up a printing-press. 

1 45 5- 1 485 The Wars of the Roses. 

1492 Columbus discovered America. 

Time Chart 



Egyptian Calendar fixed 



{as below) 


















Babylon founded 


Romans landed in Britain 







Hebrews enter Palestine 


Saxons invaded Britain 
Augustine landed in Britain 











William the Norman invaded Britain 









Columbus discovered America 





[Scale 1 inch to 500 years] 



In the following pages twelve pictures are reproduced from 
a Book of Hours of the 15th century. All except "Feeding 
pigs in November" were painted by Pol de Limbouig for the 
Duke of Berri. 

Each of them shows a typical occupation of the season and 
most of them have a famous castle in the background. 














Showing the Duke of Berri seated at 
table, with a tapestry in the background 





In the background, the castle of Lusignan on the 
Vienna, the favourite residence of the Duke of Berri 



In the backgi-ound, the Castle of Dourdan, 
belonging to the Duke of Berri 


In the background, the Towers of Riom, the capital of 
the Duchy of Auvergne, belonging to the Duke of Berri 


In the background,, the Towers of Paris, showing the Sainte 
Chapelle, the Conciergerie and the postern gate on the Seine 


In the background, the Castle of Poitiers, 
rebuilt by the Duke of Berri 


In the background, the Castle of j^tampes, 
acquired by the Duke of Berri 


In the background, the Castle of Saumur, 
in a district noted for its vineyards 


In the background, the River Seine and the old Louvre 
Note the scarecrow with a bow in his hands 


This picture is by another artist 
at the end of the r^th century 


In the background, the Castle of Vincennes 
This picture was borrowed from an Itahan artist 

cambridc;e : printed ijy 
j. k. peace, m.a., 











University of Toronto 








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Under Pat. "Ref. Index File"